Undead Darlings #4
opening of a story
c/o General Delivery
Kransburg, South Dakota 82271
Included is the forty dollars you asked for so you can get a new pair of lenses. That should cover it since you’ve already got Dorry’s frames. I hope you’ll be able to stop at some one hour place somewhere. Make sure to remind the girl to give you the senior discount because she’ll forget no matter how many toes you look like you’ve got in the grave. You don't get any money off unless you ask. I don’t need to tell you that Dorry and Martha and the rest of the shriekers and pouters around here are hell and gone worrying about you. Moaning night and day. You’d think somebody died. I will say that Dorry’s biggest scare, rightfully so, is that you can’t see where you’re going with her glasses on. Why her glasses? You just take them off the counter without looking? Well, I hope the cash takes care of that problem. And look John, like I said when you called, when a man your age says he’s got to do something for himself, then I’m all for you and I’m doing the best I can holding down the fort here. I haven’t said a word about your call to anybody, keep insisting I don’t know a thing about anything. Lied to two cops already. And a detective. Detectives in person are dumber than they are TV. I have to warn you though. Dorry talked Sheriff Oberg into putting signs up all over Wabasha County that say you're missing and you’re senile. Like you’re some blind fart who lost his way driving home from the True Value. What's worse is that they’re sending out flyers to post offices from here to Missouri with your picture. At the bottom it says you’re wearing slippers and your wife’s glasses.
opening of abandoned story, "Coral Springs"
The very moment you died, I was sitting on my bedroom floor picking at a loose piece of green carpet, high out of my head. I felt nothing. You were watching life’s moments flash by, there, when you were seven, that neon pink bike, a busted knee, your first kiss, meeting Dad, leaving Dad, me, your brightest moment, you said, that white star. Or maybe not. Maybe it was sudden, like flicking the radio dial, flicking it up or off and then an impact, glass shooting a fire into your brain, then black. I was supposed to call you back, your message earlier that day, normal, but with a hint of something else, a premonition? But no, these are the thoughts that do not help. These are the heavy ones, wet with apologies, all the questions, words I want to write into the past, and on and on they go, drifting off, little ellipses of regret.
Dad is here. Or, I am here with Dad. You would be surprised really, all that he has done. I got the call from him. He handled the arrangements, even the Black-eyed Susans, even those were his. He didn’t bring Jill, which was thoughtful. Probably the most thoughtful thing he’s done for you in years. Still, we haven’t talked much, and it’s hard for me to look him in the eyes.
I want to ask you what it’s like. I want to know if you can see me, and if these thoughts reach you. I don’t think I will visit your grave. I think we will talk, like this.
original opening of the story, "Dear Kelly Bloom"
Connor’s original plan was to graduate from college at twenty-two, as most of his high school friends managed to do, but he was twenty-eight when he finally received his diploma. During job interviews, he blamed family upheaval and inadequate financial aid for the six-year delay, but he suspected his potential employers knew that laziness and youthful stupidity were the true reasons.
opening of two drawered novels
I lost my first husband at the Denver airport. That’s how I remember it, how I think of it even now. He’d said, “Watch my bags,” and I’d watched as he walked down the moving walkway in the direction of the bathroom. I looked down at the magazine in my lap and picked up easily where I left off in the article about a pregnant actress who was so happy to be able to eat an omelet now that it was OK to gain weight. Why I remember the article, I have no idea. Maybe because I thought it was funny to be so happy just to eat eggs. I remember finishing the article and looking up. My husband wasn’t back yet. I looked down at my watch. Thirty minutes had passed. I looked towards the men’s bathroom, as though just looking could have conjured him instantly.
cut from an essay
My husband and I, our central social life then, besides watching movies, was going to parties with his film school buddies, where I always felt like the girlfriend (say it like a swear word). I tried hard to be not too loud and not too quiet and not too weird, and to act like I totally knew exactly what everyone else was talking about (Oh my god, me too, I love Luchino Visconti!) even though I often didn’t, and I waited with an anxious stomach for the question that sooner or later always came when the natural conversation among a group of us sputtered and died: What do you do? The response to this question felt like it cemented each person’s place in the hierarchy of the group and, ultimately, the world at large. Answers typically went something like this: Producer, Writer, Actor, Editor, Director, Actor, Production Designer, Writer, Actor, Actor, Actor. And then my turn: Well, actually I’m not sure yet really so right now I work at a record store/bookstore/documentary film company/commercial production company/this place that cold calls tire stores and auto parts centers to encourage the employees to buy pornography/and sometimes I help out this guy who doesn’t pay me who’s writing and directing a musical about a protagonist who wears hair plugs.
The ensuing silence like wind over a vast plain.
cut from the novella, A Month of Summer
Houses like ours, with decks balanced atop high diagonal beams, are tucked in to the Hollywood Hills like nesting swallows. The houses all seem to be on the precipice of a fall, as if they might tip forward and roll to the valley floor. I look over the craggy canyon of smooth ice plant and spiny bushes. I close my eyes and inhale eucalyptus, but, in the breeze, I hear the dry rustle of corn stalks and the soft ripples of air on a field of wheat.
Undead Darlings: providing shelter for textual orphans worth saving.