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Adelaide Literary Magazine is an independent international monthly publication, based in New York and Lisbon. Founded by Stevan V. Nikolic and Adelaide Franco Nikolic in 2015, the magazine’s aim is to
publish quality poetry, fiction, nonfiction, artwork, and photography, as well as interviews, articles, and book reviews, written in English and Portuguese. We seek to publish outstanding literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and to promote the writers we publish, helping both new, emerging, and
established authors reach a wider literary audience.
A Revista Literária Adelaide é uma publicação
mensal internacional e independente, localizada em Nova Iorque e Lisboa. Fundada por Stevan V. Nikolic e Adelaide Franco Nikolic em 2015, o objectivo da revista é publicar poesia, ficção, não-ficção, arte e fotografia de qualidade assim como entrevistas, artigos e críticas literárias, escritas em inglês e português. Pretendemos publicar ficção, não-ficção e poesia excepcionais assim como promover os
escritores que publicamos, ajudando os autores novos e emergentes a atingir uma audiência literária mais vasta.
(http://adelaidemagazine.org)

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Published by ADELAIDE BOOKS, 2018-07-17 11:17:11

Adelaide Literary Magazine No. 11, January 2018

Adelaide Literary Magazine is an independent international monthly publication, based in New York and Lisbon. Founded by Stevan V. Nikolic and Adelaide Franco Nikolic in 2015, the magazine’s aim is to
publish quality poetry, fiction, nonfiction, artwork, and photography, as well as interviews, articles, and book reviews, written in English and Portuguese. We seek to publish outstanding literary fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, and to promote the writers we publish, helping both new, emerging, and
established authors reach a wider literary audience.
A Revista Literária Adelaide é uma publicação
mensal internacional e independente, localizada em Nova Iorque e Lisboa. Fundada por Stevan V. Nikolic e Adelaide Franco Nikolic em 2015, o objectivo da revista é publicar poesia, ficção, não-ficção, arte e fotografia de qualidade assim como entrevistas, artigos e críticas literárias, escritas em inglês e português. Pretendemos publicar ficção, não-ficção e poesia excepcionais assim como promover os
escritores que publicamos, ajudando os autores novos e emergentes a atingir uma audiência literária mais vasta.
(http://adelaidemagazine.org)

Keywords: fiction,nonfiction,poetry,books,literature,publishing

INDEPENDENT REVISTA
BIMONTHLY LITERÁRIA
LITERARY INDEPENDENTE
MAGAZINEIDE- BIMENSAL

ADELAIDE FOUNDERS / FUNDADORES
Independent Bimonthly Literary Magazine Stevan V. Nikolic & Adelaide Franco Nikolic
Revista Literária Independente Bimensal
Year III, Number 11, January 2018 EDITOR IN CHIEF / EDITOR-CHEFE
Ano III, Número 11, janeiro de 2018 Stevan V. Nikolic

ISBN-13: 978-0-9996451-6-1 [email protected]
ISBN-10: 0-9996451-6-1
MANAGING DIRECTOR / DIRECTORA EXECUTIVA
Adelaide Literary Magazine is an independent Adelaide Franco Nikolic
internaƟonal bimonthly publicaƟon, based in New York
and Lisbon. Founded by Stevan V. Nikolic and Adelaide GRAPHIC & WEB DESIGN
Franco Nikolic in 2015, the magazine’s aim is to publish IsƟna Group DBA
quality poetry, ficƟon, nonficƟon, artwork, and
photography, as well as interviews, arƟcles, and book PORTUGUESE LANGUAGE EDITOR / EDITORA PORTUGUESA
reviews, wriƩen in English and Portuguese. We seek to
publish outstanding literary ficƟon, nonficƟon, and Adelaide Franco Nikolic
poetry, and to promote the writers we publish, helping
both new, emerging, and established authors reach a BOOK REVIEWS
wider literary audience. We publish print and digital Heena Rathore
ediƟons of our magazine six Ɵmes a year, in Septem- Jack Messenger
ber, November, January, March, May, and July. Online Ana Sofia Pereira
ediƟon is updated conƟnuously. There are no charges
for reading the magazine online. ScoƩ Morris

A Revista Literária Adelaide é uma publicação CONTRIBUTING AUTHORS IN THIS ISSUE
bimensal internacional e independente, localizada em
Nova Iorque e Lisboa. Fundada por Stevan V. Nikolic e Kenneth Vanderbeek, L.S. Engler, Richard Dokey,
Adelaide Franco Nikolic em 2015, o objecƟvo da revista Anthony Saunders, Laura Solomon, Ruth Moors-
é publicar poesia, ficção, não-ficção, arte e fotografia D'Eredita, Amada Matei, Kathryn Merriam, Jessica
de qualidade assim como entrevistas, arƟgos e críƟcas Ciosek, SevasƟ Iyama, Souzi Gharib, Brooke Reynolds,
literárias, escritas em inglês e português. Pretendemos Helen Grochmal, DusƟn Pickering, Abigayle Thompson,
publicar ficção, não-ficção e poesia excepcionais assim Michael Malloy, BreƩ Kaplan, Alan Kulaƫ, Daniel
como promover os escritores que publicamos, ajudan- White, Susannah Luthi, John McLaughlin, Maureen
do os autores novos e emergentes a aƟngir uma McCafferty, Dana Hart, Ben Rosenthal, J. David Liss, Jeff
audiência literária mais vasta. Publicamos edições Richards, Jean E. Verthein, Sasha Chinnaya, Vincent Yu,
impressas e digitais da nossa revista seis vezes por ano: Tim Urban, John Tavares, Heide ArbiƩer, Taylor Lovullo,
em setembro, novembro, janeiro, março, maio e julho. MaryeƩa Ackenbom, Jack Coey, Wally Swist, A. M.
A edição online é actualizada regularmente. Não há Palmer, Kat Kiefer-Newman, Desiree Jung, Anita
qualquer custo associado à leitura da revista online. Gorman, Thomas Larsen, Bill Vernon, Kimberly
McElreath, Jeff Bakkensen, Tony Whedon, Frannie
(hƩp://adelaidemagazine.org) Gilbertson, Allen Long, Antonio Wong, John BallanƟne
Jr., George Freek, Gloria Monaghan, Holly Day, John
Published by: Adelaide Books, New York O'Connor, Patrick Mahoney, Annelise Mozzoni, Debbie
e-mail: [email protected] Richard, Edward Bonner, Donovan James, Richard
phone: (917) 727 8907 Dinges, Tomas Sanchez Hidalgo, David MaƩhews,
Victoria Randall, Robert Beveridge, Thom Young,
Copyright © 2017 by Adelaide Literary Magazine MarƟn Altman, Lenny Lewis, Patrick Hurley, Nolo
Segundo, Colin Dodds, MaƩ Barker, Irene Mitchell,
All rights reserved. No part of this publicaƟon may be Abigail Van Kirk, Lana Bella, Mark Prebilic, Kathy
reproduced in any manner whatsoever without wriƩen Coman, Roger Singer, Hannah Kludy, Tamara Williams,
permission from the Adelaide Literary Magazine Editor- Noah Slowik, Eduardo Escalante, Mitchel Montagna,
in-chief, except in the case of brief quotaƟons Ian Smith, Don McLeod, Daniel Senser, Emily Butler,
embodied in criƟcal arƟcles and reviews.
Henry Reneau

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Revista Adelaide

CONTENTS / CONTEÚDOS

EDITOR'S NOTES 6 GORSE by Ben Rosenthal 124
DAY’S WORK by J. David Liss 130
NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS IT WILL BE FOREVER by Jeff Richards 136
By Stevan V. Nikolic PLIE, ADJUST, TUNDU, TAP by Jean E. Verthein 141
THE ART COTTAGE by Sasha Chinnaya 146
FICTION / FICÇÃO CLAWS by Vincent Yu 152
BEFORE THE DINER by Tim Urban 160
THE SALVATION OF JOHN AMBERT 8 FORREST HILLS by John Tavares 167
by Kenneth Vanderbeek DR. PERKINS by Heide ArbiƩer 176
GRAVEDIGGER by L.S. Engler 16 WET FEET, DRY FEET by Taylor Lovullo 179
HAVE YOU READ BROTHERS KARAMAZOV 18 HEARTWOOD by MaryeƩa Ackenbom 184
by Richard Dokey SCHADENFREUDE by Jack Coey 187
A KIND GESTURE by Anthony Saunders 23
THE CELLAR by Laura Solomon 24 NONFICTION / NÃO-FICÇÃO
PUNISHMENT by Ruth Moors-D'Eredita 27
COACHING MOM by Amada Matei 33 ANXIETY, TIME, AND BEING PRESENT IN THE 191
WELL DONE BOO BOO by Kathryn Merriam 37 MOMENT by Wally Swist
DREGS by Jessica Ciosek 43 ANXIETY & SYNCHRONICITY: LIVING IN THE 193
A WINTER COAT by SevasƟ Iyama 50 REAL WORLD by Wally Swist
GOLDEN BROWN by Souzi Gharib 53 NIGHTTIME LANDSCAPES: A MEMORY OF 195
MEETING MINUTES by Brooke Reynolds 59 IRIDESCENT GREEN by A. M. Palmer
CHIME PHOBIA by Helen Grochmal 64 BABY BROTHER by Kat Kiefer-Newman 197
UNDESIRABLES by DusƟn Pickering 67 DEAL BETWEEN FRIENDS by Desiree Jung 203
THE FOREVER LETTER by Abigayle Thompson 70 ACORDO ENTRE AMIGOS de Desiree Jung 204
DISSIDENTS by Michael Malloy 76 THE FIRST TELEVISION ON THE BLOCK 206
A WEEKEND IN DECEIT by BreƩ Kaplan 80 by Anita Gorman
A BAD MAN GOING THROUGH A SAD THING 89 HUMBOLDT by Thomas Larsen 208
by Alan Kulaƫ DOGS, HOGS, AND SIGNS by Bill Vernon 212
SOMEDAY I’LL BE PRESIDENT by Daniel White 92 THE LOSS OF HER by Kimberly McElreath 215
DAMAGE COLLATERAL by Susannah Luthi 100 STRANGERS by Jeff Bakkensen 217
AND THEN WHAT COULD YOU DO? 113 HURRICANE MOON by Tony Whedon 223
By Maureen McCafferty
CHILDREN AT PLAY by Dana Hart 121

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Adelaide Magazine

LOOKS OF HAPPINESS by Frannie Gilbertson 228 SEXPECTATIONS by Kathy Coman 296
CAPTURE HILL No. 49 by Allen Long 231 FROM HERE TO THERE by Roger Singer 298
I HAVE COME HOME by Antonio Wong 238 AT THE BREWERY DOWNTOWN 300
HALF OF SOMETHING by John BallanƟne Jr. 242 by Hannah Kludy
THREE POEMS by Tamara Williams 302
POETRY / POESIA 2nd FLATTEST STATE by Noah Slowik 304
THINGS IN A GAP by Eduardo Escalante 306
FAREWELL by George Freek 244 LOVELY DREAMS by Mitchel Montagna 308
INVITATION by Gloria Monaghan 246 DOG DAYS by Ian Smith 310
OUT IN THE DISTANCE by Holly Day 249 LEAPING WITH YOUR LEGS LOCKED by Don
MY GRETEL by John O'Connor 251 McLeod 312
MY FAVORITE NIECE by Patrick Mahoney 254 LATE AT NIGHT by Daniel Senser 315
TO THAW by Annelise Mozzoni 257 SELF TALK by Emily Butler 318
DAY AT THE BEACH by Debbie Richard 258 (S)LAUGHTER by Henry Reneau 320
PURPLE DAWN by Edward Bonner 259
AMERICANS ON HOLIDAY by Donovan James 261 INTERVIEWS / ENTREVISTAS
GHOSTS by Richard Dinges 264 TONI MORGAN, 322
GAZES by Tomas Sanchez Hidalgo 266 Author of Two-Hearted Crossing
WHEN I DREAM WELL by David MaƩhews 268
CONSIDERED OVER by Victoria Randall 270 BOOK REVIEWS / CRITÍCAS LITERÁRIAS
JAMES AND THE GODFLESH 271 AGON by Judith Goldman
by Robert Beveridge Review by Wally Swist 328
MISTAKE by Thom Young 272 INSTRUCTIONS FROM WITHIN by Ashraf Fayadh
MAKING IMAGES by MarƟn Altman 274 Review by Wally Swist 332
RAPTURE OF FUNK by Lenny Lewis 276
WALKING by Patrick Hurley 277 NEW TITLES
ON VIEWING THE CORPSE OF MY MOTHER-IN- ECHOES FROM A FALLING BRIDGE 336
LAW by Nolo Segundo 280 by Toni Morgan
WHEN YOU WERE BORN by Colin Dodds 281 TEN STORIES TO MANHOOD 337
PURGE by MaƩ Barker 284 by Jonathan Maniscalco
CLARITY by Irene Mitchell 286 THE DEATH OF DR. DEAN by Jack Coey 338
AMBITION by Abigail Van Kirk 289 CINDERBLOCK HOUSES by Krista Creel 339
GONE GIRL by Lana Bella 291 Front cover photo:
I HESITATED by Mark Prebilic 293 Doors of the Convent of Christ in
Tomar, Portugal— by A.F. Nikolic
Interior illustraƟons— From the series “Postcards
from Portugal” by A.F. Nikolic

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Revista Adelaide
5

Adelaide Magazine

Stevan V. Nikolic

NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS

6



Adelaide Magazine

THE SALVATION OF
JOHN AMBERT

by Kenneth Vanderbeek

“We live in a challenged world, where the lion is of angels and the old candelabra — the crowning
devouring the lamb.” touch, as always, his great gem bracelets, which
he shackled one each to a wrist and ankle.
The Reverend John Ambert put his sermon down
for a moment to reflect. Except for his candela- The Reverend John Ambert was one of eight chil-
bra, the parsonage was dark. However, a wash of dren (the sole male), the previous seven also
red light outside was just beginning to expose the products of a strenuous rhythm; and as the last
bedroom to a palpable clarity, as an image on (conceived just shy of his parents’ decision
film. He was straightening the alb sleeves and of chasƟty), his vocaƟon had naturally been pre-
amice in his mirror when it came to him. Taking arranged. As soon as he’d reached an age at
up his pen he crossed out the word challenged which his calling, of its most rudimentary earthly
and subsƟtuted evil. Nodding with saƟsfacƟon he and spiritual duƟes, was understood, he’d accept-
now aƩended to his face, an eyebrow pluck here, ed it in complete assent; indeed, with a burgeon-
a bit more rouge there; and as he commenced ing rigor. Gregarious from the start, in part due to
reading the sermon in its enƟrety a third and final the indulgence of his seven adoring siblings
Ɵme, henceforth he paused only for sips of his (they’d nicknamed him Card’nal for his innate
chalice wine. abiliƟes in leadership, organizaƟon, and devo-
Ɵon), as he grew, his giŌ for gab took increasingly
This holy man was quite fond of his aƫre, a rever- the form of outspokenness in his repudiaƟon of
ence originaƟng when he was a boy and his older cliques, mediaƟon of arguments, dispersal of bul-
sisters had oŌen dressed him up as their minion; lies, and incessant pursuit of other Godly causes.
and this affecƟon had only escalated into his
fledgling adulthood. In the case of his vestments, This disƟnguishing quality followed John Ambert
although it was opƟonal he wore the bireƩa (he into adulthood. And yet, though outwardly com-
liked how it contrasted with his blonde hair, mak- passionate and affable, The Reverend John Am-
ing the laƩer seem to glow), and not unƟl the bert harbored an omnipresent fear that he might
height of summer would he dispense with the be perceived by some as unsuited to his calling, as
cappa, the ‘black cape.’ To his great pride he kept if the sacred cloth gave the impression of its meek
more than a dozen pectoral necklaces, the choice wearer rather as a pedestrian, or worse, a charla-
of which to wear on Sunday conƟngent on the tan, his diminuƟve stature and high voice under-
sermon, the day’s sacred significance, or his mining his virtues in the public mind as untena-
mood; and these hallowed crosses of the Trinity ble. To subvert impressions that he might be too
he augmented with gold collar buƩons, cufflinks, fragile for his duƟes, or even reƟcent, he fash-
and a large pearl broach. By sunrise his mirror ioned a conspicuous persona of spiritual strength
reflected the image of a delicate though strikingly and consummate moral convicƟon, both stem-
aƩracƟve man of God, the halo compliments ming from an intricate comprehension of the

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Revista Adelaide

human condiƟon in its historic and present impli- candidate for the Fulbright Scholarship to conƟn-
caƟons (he was a student of religious history, cur- ue his religious studies abroad; at seminary he
rent affairs, public opinion, and above all, had graduated number one; and so far, during his
knowledge), all the while maintaining a robust three years behind the pulpit, he had not once
schedule — which he did his best to nudge in fa- wanted for a sermon topic. As a product of the
vor of community service over private penance. new century, this Ɵme of recharged sexual prom-
He was proud of his early record as a virtuous and iscuity and intense poliƟcal parƟsanship, he was
enlightened Child of God, which he prayed mani- especially mindful of the everyday concerns,
fested in his every gesture and word, especially stresses, and temptaƟons of his flock, and strove
during his Sunday sermons. Of the divine signifi- to address these with language that was transpar-
cance of the number three, he delivered his ser- ent, empatheƟc, and useful. Always straining for
mons three Ɵmes, at seven, nine, and eleven balance between instrucƟon and enlightenment,
o’clock. Lately his homilies, as that to which he he nevertheless believed that he had already
had made the last edit, embraced a parƟcular proved an adeptness at disƟlling right from wrong
devoƟon to tolerance. on many subjects, tradiƟonal and modern, from
the most basic calls to faith, hope, marriage, par-
“It is lamentable to think,” soon he would pro- enƟng, peace, soulful wellbeing, and wisdom, to
claim to the usual hundreds in aƩendance at his humble direcƟves on laƩer-day topics ranging
services, “that here and now, in this, the twenty- from anger management to workplace harmony.
first century following the death and resurrecƟon He would intone: “Yea, though the righteous walk
of our Lord and Savior — this awesome Ɵme of in light, the brightest light shines on the sinners.”
advanced reason and knowledge, hallmarks of Above all he felt at ease navigaƟng that most
mankind’s greatness — it is lamentable to think difficult of topics, sin — from the seven deadly
that marriage is sƟll universally proclaimed the sins, envy, gluƩony, greed, lust, pride, sloth, and
sole privilege of a man and a woman, God’s only wrath, to those he deemed prevailing sins, fore-
‘sacred’ union; further, that it is sƟll universally most among them trespassing, violence, and in-
believed heterosexuality is the one and only ‘true’ tolerance. He loved his flock, whom he called his
province of a legiƟmate soul and a legiƟmate Folks. From his pastoral apex in the old cathedral
body. Yet consider this: Once it was also a fore- he had already admonished them to supplement
gone conclusion that epilepƟcs were possessed their faith with good works. Though, of course,
by the devil, that African Americans were per- this noƟon of salvaƟon was controversial, he de-
ceived as nothing more than beasts of burden, fended it steadfastly, his raƟonale being that
and that women were denied the vote on the good works are faith’s “checks and balances”;
basis that men considered them inferior decision- that is, that good works (manifestaƟon of the
makers. My people, know that it is but a maƩer of mind) must flow in tandem with faith
Ɵme before the misconcepƟons about homosexu- (manifestaƟon of the heart). “It is wriƩen that we
als shall too be vanquished, that under man’s who uphold Jesus Christ as our Savior are already
laws they will enjoy the same privileges as hetero- forgiven of our sins through faith alone,” he as-
sexuals, as they already do under God’s….” The serted. “Yet such absoluƟon is given only for our
other reason The Reverend John Ambert held original sin, that which is innate in all human be-
three services was because, with each, memory ings since the Ɵme of the Garden. Mortal sin —
and chaƩer increased exponenƟally as his awak- adultery, murder, rape, and the like — because it
ening parishioners began exporƟng his messages can only be forgiven at Judgment, and because
well beyond the confines of their one-hour seclu- forgiveness then is not even guaranteed, must
sion, the net effect being that soon their passion therefore be vanquished during our mortal lives.
(if not always aligned with The Reverend’s) mim- Thus good works, like faith, naturally stem from
icked, if not surpassed, his own. Christ’s teachings, which commend moral exacƟ-
tude.”
The Reverend John Ambert was a vigorously intel-
ligent man; at university he had graduated in the Not surprisingly, this declaraƟon caused a
top twenty-five of his class and been menƟon- sƟr. The local, and also the regional and naƟonal,
ed by many among the faculty as a bona fide

9

Adelaide Magazine

publicaƟons of the Church had immediately fea- park and the winter hockey matches at the frozen
tured intensive commentary, the prevailing mes- pond outside of town; it had been he, small in
sage being condemnatory, of course, with cries size yet great in stature, to whom the others had
among clergy and lay alike for punishment and turned for advice in every kind of conflict, from
censure. Yet instead of calling a summary inquisi- minor squabbles to territorial disputes. Through-
Ɵon the hierarchy laid low, that the furor might out his youth John Ambert had worked, with un-
get ‘swept under the rug’; the elders chasƟsed shakable convicƟon, to shape his character such
the young pastor by leƩer only, in the hope that it that it would be disƟnguished by an adherence to
would make him come to his senses. Meanwhile, the purest constraints of objecƟvity, fellowship,
among The Reverend Ambert’s parishioners reac- and fairness; in a phrase, to project himself as an
Ɵons came in somewhat mixed, from whispered eminently reliable and honorable servant. Yet this
repudiaƟon (and even acceptance), to under- effort had not been easy, given his home environ-
ground debates in an ardent quest to imagine ment. His mother, Dot Ambert, was woefully de-
what influences or impulses had propelled him to mur and a consummate worrier; she especially
such “hereƟcal nonsense” (or “brilliant insight”), worried about her tormented son, and had be-
to vociferous rage (primarily among the most come so convinced that it was only a maƩer of
conservaƟve), which ignited, in the least, confron- Ɵme unƟl she’d worried herself to death over him
taƟon and demands for full clarificaƟon. In one that, mid-marriage to her husband, on the basis
parƟcularly chiding affront (an email), a parishion- that she felt she’d not the strength of will any
er may have spoken for all detractors: “Shame on longer to co-manage them, she’d relinquished all
you, Rev. Ambert, in your haughty aƩempt to pin her righƞul powers of parenƟng to him. Jack Am-
salvaƟon on ‘good works!’ That, sir, is a sin, your bert, a mill worker, had passed his perfecƟonism
sin! For faith, as every true believer knows, is the to his son, and was also prone to moods and
holy legacy of our Savior’s sacrifice — by His provocaƟon. Strapped in youth with a stuƩer he’d
death on the cross He bore our sins and forgave never been able to shake, throughout his life he’d
them! On the contrary, sir, this is not our work to forsaken many opportuniƟes for fulfillment for
do; Christ did it for us, that we shall be saved fear of ridicule or reproach. In John, he’d hoped
through our faith in Him!” Even so, against a to behold a reflecƟon of himself as he could have
heightened rigorous scruƟny by his elders The been: a pillar of his vocaƟon. Instead, in his only
Reverend John Ambert remained resolute in his son he beheld liƩle more than a dreamer and
convicƟon, and to reinforce it, in subsequent ser- weakling — “The Runt,” he called John — and
vices cited examples of what, to his insistence, altogether dismissed the boy for his brooding,
consƟtuted a “litany” of good works toward salva- pensiveness, and, predominantly, what the father
Ɵon: “…in order to safeguard against adultery one ulƟmately decried as an ardent femininity.
must not only resist temptaƟon but also minister
to those who feel helpless in its clutches; in order Naturally, young John Ambert had withdrawn. For
to safeguard against greed one must demonstrate solace he’d immersed himself in books: fantasies
charity; in order to safeguard against intolerance and classic novels at first, but soon also the works
one must purge the self and act for the welfare of of the modern philosophers, parƟcularly of the
others uncondiƟonally.…” That Monday, he’d raƟonalists Immanuel Kant, for his belief that rea-
received another leƩer. son is the source of morality, and Arthur Scho-
penhauer, for his belief that individual morality
In truth, John Ambert had come to these asser- arises from “collecƟve consciousness”; and too,
Ɵons from a longstanding melancholy in which he devoured the works of the ChrisƟan philoso-
burned a seemingly inexƟnguishable, and, he was phers, Reinhold Niebuhr and others. All this ab-
certain, unpardonable guilt. sorpƟon of so much criƟcal thinking, in addiƟon
to strengthening his intellect, also forƟfied his
As has already been established, John Ambert will; the pivotal consequences being the rise of an
was a giŌed leader. Among all the boys in the- effusive love of self (born of a burgeoning pity of
neighborhood, it had been he who had typically his stoic father) and resolute independence (born
headed up the school’s social acƟviƟes; he who of pity in kind of his passive mother). One
had organized the summer baseball games at the day, he was twelve, in response to a parƟcularly

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Revista Adelaide

upbraiding remark in which the father had essen- In the crystalline solsƟce grief gasped from him
Ɵally pegged the “dreamer” as an aimless good- like smoke rings branding the frozen air. UnƟl
for-nothing, John Ambert had retaliated by say- then an awful sense of wonder of the yearling’s
ing: “At least my life is whole, the result of a struggle had kept John Ambert locked in his
healthy philosophical foundaƟon!” At the Ɵme, tracks, for he understood not why the struggle
the father had been half-asleep in his favorite felt empowering. “What are you doing, Card’nal?
chair, the plush sofa kind, a hand-me-down from Get over here and help!” one of them cried. A
his mother, when slowly he’d stood up. “A dead ash leaf lilted then on the lad’s forehead.
healthy philosophical foundaƟon, you say,” he’d Then another. And another. Upon each landing, a
yawned. He’d conƟnued, “Is this what you teardrop made its way down the peanut-buƩer
mean?”, and slapped John Ambert so forcefully mask the four were making of the face. When
that the blow had knocked him to the floor. As they’d finished, they grabbed John Ambert and
usual, by the Ɵme the boy had been able to rise threw him into the sauce, whereupon he tasted a
again, the father had disappeared. mingled sweat of contempt and charity before
being thrown back again. As he tumbled away, he
These were the principal laws John Ambert had made himself believe he could not see the abused
learned in youth: the law of wrongdoing and con- as they tore away his pants, savages reeling in vile
sequence; and the law of dominance, one over pleasure, their sƟcks already aimed.
another.
Ostensibly, John Ambert’s family was devastated
Years before the comfort of books, whenever the by the brutal assault. To Jack Ambert especially,
father had chasƟsed or clouted John Ambert he his son’s despicable turn more than confirmed his
had aŌerward immediately run for sanctuary to aberrant sexuality. OŌen now, with his thoughts
one of his sisters’ rooms, where the sweet voice of the girly boy, the father would shudder: He’d
of accordance and the color pink had salved his look in a mirror and see his son. No longer could
wounds. Yet a Ɵme had eventually come when, he golf with the guys that he’d not suddenly be
instead of scabbing and healing, those injuries consumed by a feeling of self-loathing, as though
had festered like rancid fruit, as bruised as his he were walking the course in a waddle and con-
whole. versing in lisps; no longer could he go anywhere
in the world that he did not sense a thousand
As the interests of his older sisters had transi- condescending stares. Facing all his friends and
Ɵoned to school events, sleepovers, and boys, acquaintances was an ominous labor. What could
John Ambert had redirected his interminable itch he now say about John Ambert: “SƟll, I am
for solace to other male peers who were trou- proud”? No. He hated his son.
bled. The core group numbered four: two broth-
ers he’d met at the frozen pond when, happening The father’s first reacƟon to the brutal aƩack, of
by, they had invited themselves into the skate; course, had been to slap the boy and stomp
the third befriended with a pack of cigareƩes away. But Jack Ambert gleaned no saƟsfacƟon
John Ambert had stolen from the pharmacy on a from this act — though he knew that nothing
dare; the last a cousin, who was also a black about his son could provide hope of a full recon-
sheep. One day, aŌer the skate and a brief diver- ciliaƟon: The boy’s fall had opened a wound that
sion to town to fetch jerky and pop, sauntering neither Ɵme, nor mindfulness, nor God Himself
back to the woods in the common direcƟon of could ever heal. Dot Ambert felt no less devastat-
their respecƟve homes the five boys had encoun- ed. She, who’d always listened intently to her
tered another. He was siƫng against a tree, son’s soliloquies on good versus evil, convicƟon
humped over a liƩle, a cane at his side, his knees versus doubt, fairness, egalitarianism, the Rights
propped almost to the eyes, a large jar of some- of Man…, now she could only hear, whenever she
thing embraced by both arms like a favorite tried to recall the righteousness in him, the police
stuffed animal. They asked the sprite who he was. report of his terrible wrong. For months she could
“Pea-nut But-ter,” the boy grinned. The smoker not aƩend church: not just because of her lost
leaned in. “What’s your last name? And Jelly?” faith, but also because of the judgment of peers.
Hackles fogged the frozen air. The boy hadn’t a OŌen now she would rub her abdomen and
chance to retreat; the four were upon him in a weep, wondering how she could have delivered
wisp and stretching him like canvas.

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Adelaide Magazine

such an anomaly into the world. Now, of all her survived from “love of the enemy,” hope, and
children, it was he who consƟtuted the whole of luck, in that order. Upon meeƟng John Ambert,
her worries, this “lost sheep!” And as for John the first thing he said was:
Ambert’s sisters, his sanctuary, they had likewise
been transformed: pink no more but coal-black; “Do zu know, in German Ambert means a bright,
their faces pressed now in perpetual pouts and shining light?”
sneers, their tongues screwed in eternal silence.
One of them (probably not coincidentally, the The boy nodded that he did not.
eldest) crystallized the feelings of all when she
said, “Shame brother, for far have you strayed “Ja! And do zu know also, in German Neuer
from the world you imagined!” means new?”

John Ambert was sent to a juvenile detenƟon Again the boy nodded that he did not.
center for rehabilitaƟon. Test results deemed him
“cognizant of the difference between right and “Well, together,” said Dr. Neuer, placing an arm
wrong,” so drugs were dismissed in favor of coun- gently around his underling’s shoulder, “ve shall
seling. His assigned advocate, Dr. Kurt Neuer, an give to a certain bright, shining light a new begin-
ancient man with a white SocraƟc beard and pen- ning. Ja? Ja!”
sive blue eyes, had studied under Carl Jung, and
was thus well-versed in the Swiss psychiatrist’s In the beginning, Dr. Neuer met with the boy first
theories on individuaƟon (the psychological pro- thing each morning aŌer breakfast (aŌer, in order
cess of integraƟng opposites, such as conscious- to advance the likelihood that his paƟent would
ness with unconsciousness), as well as the mas- be alert), then again before lunch, and finally at
ter’s contenƟon that, because God’s Word in- seven o’clock, two hours before compulsory Ɵme
structs man how to live, all ideas about behavior for the wards to reƟre. Each of the first two ses-
must be examined within the context of religion. sions convened one hour; the last, two hours, the
Jung wrote: “Religions are systems of healing for second hour reserved for respite, casual conver-
psychic illness. That is why paƟents force the psy- saƟon (or none, if the boy preferred), and a
chotherapist choice of milk or fruit smoothie plus a generous

into the role of a priest, and expect and demand slice of BienensƟch (yeast dough with Bavarian
of him that he shall free them from their distress. cream filling, topped with almonds and honey),
That is why we psychotherapists must occupy a favorite of the doctor’s from the old country.
ourselves with problems which, strictly speaking, Except for when he was in the midst of creaƟng a
belong to the theologian.” Dr. Neuer knew much new poem (oŌen he visited the facility’s outlying
about religion, and also about angst and rebellion woods for reflecƟon and contemplaƟon), John
and light and lightness. He’d spent nearly the Ambert rarely chose silence over dialogue during
whole of World War II as a prisoner at the Ger- the evening session, so taken had he been by Dr.
man concentraƟon camp Ravensbrück, to which Neuer’s probity and approbaƟon, that these qual-
originally only his mother and both sisters had iƟes had all but instantly freed him of feelings of
been herded of the contenƟon they were gypsies, apathy and superiority. Nor would Kurt Neuer
but to which he’d soon followed as their ever ask John Ambert why he had been an acces-
“abeƩor.” sory to the rape of the disabled boy; the good
doctor refused to juggle quesƟons or assessments
His first months (he never knew how many; he’d of “predisposiƟons” — geneƟc and environmental
lost count aŌer six hundred eighty seven days) factors that so far had shaped the boy and may
he’d somehow managed to conquer death in a pit thus have conspired in direcƟng his fateful acƟon.
not much bigger than himself, under an iron cov- Rather, Dr. Neuer concentrated wholly on availing
er in which was a hole for light no larger than a the boy to a world of acceptance and possibility,
pfennig, and on raƟons consisƟng, in part, of his and poured his interest fully in John Ambert as he
feces. In the whole, nearly four years (fall 1941 had been presented: possessed by shame and
to liberaƟon in April 1945), he’d tell you that he’d trepidaƟon.

“Well, then,” conƟnued the doctor, “ve ist here
today because of vhat is confirmed by za report
as a terrible act, an unfortunate act. Correct?”

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Revista Adelaide

“Yes, sir,” said John Ambert. like the sagging yet sturdy branches of the willow,
He had born all the sins of man. “And yet, how
“Please, my boy, dispense viz za zir!” waved the human He was,” John Ambert added, “such that
doctor. “Call me Dr. Neuer; ur beƩer, Kurt!” He, too, felt doubt, and abandonment. —How
indignant He was toward the money-lenders in
The boy shrugged. the Temple!”

“Ha, ist bashful! Vy — because I am za zo-called “Ah, but remember,” replied the good doctor,
authority figure here?” “that oon personalizing those emoƟons Jesus
absorbed our sins, that upon His death und resur-
John Ambert nodded. recƟon they would be vanquished in His name
und through our enduring faith in Him.”
Dr. Neuer rose from his chair. “Listen my goot
young acolyte, do not be trapped by impressions! “And yet,” interjected the boy, “could it be that
Neither zu, nor I, ist more important — more on account of His exclamaƟon on the cross, ‘My
zacred — zan za other. Oonderstand? God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’, that
Ve ist both human, ja? Made of za zame substanc- Jesus actually was no more human than we?”
es, flesh und blood. Am I correct, Mr. Ambert?”
“Consummate,” corrected Dr. Neuer, “that by
“John,” whispered the boy. such searing separateness from His father, Jesus,
in his last earthly moment, was able to finish His
“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed the doctor, “zu ist learning. good works — and ours.”
Ist goot!”
For the remainder of their Ɵme together, some
John Ambert did not acknowledge the praise; his three months, the mentor and the protégé would
eyes had filled like beakers to their rims: blue rekindle this dialogue oŌen, and, indeed, aŌer-
sapphires in acid. He had no idea, anyway, what ward sustained it for many years….
the answer was to the doctor’s quesƟon, “Ve ist
both human, ja?”: was not sure, comparing him- IniƟally aŌer his release from the detenƟon cen-
self to this man of extraordinary courage and wis- ter, the sunny days of the world seemed brighter
dom, whether his own substance, tainted as it to John Ambert and the overcast not so much.
was, had any remaining value. Humanity’s social commerce seemed invigorated
and the march of days quickened. He felt as he
Yet as the doctor’s inquisiƟons formed a founda- might if he were in love.
Ɵon, their meeƟngs progressed.
Within the month, as he celebrated his thirteenth
Dr. Neuer’s uppermost objecƟve was to help his birthday the wish he made was that he might
young acolyte “feel in deference to zo much embark on an extracurricular mission of aid to the
thinking.” Along with this call, he had the boy hopeless, wayward, and misbegoƩen. As another
ulƟmately reciƟng in full the “Moral Alphabet” three years must pass before he’d get his driver’s
and puƫng to task its A to Z tenets in emoƟve permit, his approving parents served then as his
daily exercises. principal means of transport to and from the mis-
sion desƟnaƟons (and, of course, whenever those
One day the good doctor asked John Ambert to desƟnaƟons happened to be removed enough
say the first thing that came to mind. Not surpris- from the greater traffic, he’d ride his bike).
ingly the boy shrugged. “Don’t think!” said Dr.
Neuer. “Let it come.” He snapped his fingers. At the start of his chosen work, in an effort to
“The world is flat,” said John Ambert. “Goot! pace himself, as well as to abide the necessity of
Now, go deeper!” Before the doctor had finished maintaining good grades at school, John Ambert
the boy spuƩered, “How was Jesus like a tree?” served only the town’s foster home. Yet as it
seemed increasingly logical that this calling would
“Yes, now ve ist geƫng zumvhere!” said Dr. Neu- not undermine the academic, starƟng the second
er. Naturally he asked his young acolyte to elabo- quarter following his discharge from the juvenile
rate. detenƟon center he further availed his Samaritan
services at the food pantry and an elderly care
John Ambert proceeded to describe how strong
his Savior was, like an oak: how true, like the best
hardwoods. How, in pathos Ɵnged by convicƟon,

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Adelaide Magazine

center. By the end of his first year of rehabilita- tolerance for your enemy, for he is also you;
Ɵon, having hardly finished his first month in high forgive the sins of the sinner, for he is also you.”
school, he was also aiding the homeless in skid He turned to cough. “Excuse me, that was just the
row and assisƟng in isolaƟng the protest block- devil. He’s had enough!” Tempered laughter
ades at the aborƟon clinic. made its way to the altar. He coughed again.
“Where was I?” He
He went on to serve the local chapters of AcƟon
Against Hunger and the Alzheimer’s and AIDS pulled a handkerchief from beneath the alb and
FoundaƟons, served with disƟncƟon at the Ameri- paƩed his forehead. “Oh, yes, tolerance. Doubt
can Red Cross, helped in fundraising for the Cath- not, nor chide, nor dismiss thyself,” he said, “for
olic ChariƟes, comforted children at McDonald’s to do so is doubly to forsake your brothers and
House, marched with the SalvaƟon Army and sisters. Rather, love thyself — and the world —
chanted with the mothers of MADD; and in his without bias or preconcepƟon. For just as a vase
freshman summer volunteered at the ChrisƟan broken is not the end of the world, so also is it
Care FoundaƟon for Children with DisabiliƟes, in true with every mistake.” This is what The
his sophomore helped build houses for Habitat Reverend John Ambert said on Easter. AŌerward,
for Humanity, in his junior sat with the con- as his parishioners filed out, he said goodbye, and
demned at the maximum-security prison upstate, wished each in turn everlasƟng wellness and
and in his senior year comforted PTSD vets of contentment. Then, nonchalantly, he made his
foreign wars. In college, he conƟnued Ɵrelessly to way back through the cathedral and out, into the
serve in these causes and added several more garden….
obligaƟons, including as an assistant scout leader
for the Boy Scouts, volunteer at the local Boys First thing Monday morning he was standing at
Club, and correspondent for Children of Peace his mirror straightening the alb sleeves and
InternaƟonal. amice, as he had just twenty-four hours before.
Today, though, he also wore a sturdy belt. Next
SƟll, the guilt of his youthful transgression felt he applied a pectoral necklace, which he’d
unpardonable. selected based on his early mood of tranquility,
then the cappa, and finally his great gem
Now, with the arrival of the first Sunday of Lent, bracelets, one each which he shackled to a wrist
The Reverend John Ambert turned his aƩenƟon and ankle. Then, as always in culminaƟon, he
again to the subject of tolerance, placing in the aƩended to his face, the usual dab of rouge here,
series of homilies he would deliver for an eyebrow pluck there. ExƟnguishing the flames
the next six weeks especial focus on the sins of of his candelabra, he entered the world. First stop
the high priests and Pharisees, principal among was the Post Office, where he dropped off a
those sins, envy; culminaƟng in a meditaƟon on bucket of leƩers to his family, his Folks, and to Dr.
salvaƟon. More than ever he poured himself into Neuer.
this work, the work of tolerance, which, nearly to
the last, his Folks received in awe and with deep This morning he had forsaken the breaking of
ardor, their passion more than ever aligning with, bread in favor of taking a walk to the old beloved
even surpassing, his. Then Easter arrived, and woods of his youth. There, well beyond the pond,
the culminaƟon. in the darkest part, at a dried-up creek bed at the
foot of a sandstone precipice, he picked up a
“My Folks, dear Folks,” he said. “On this hallowed sƟck. For a moment he examined it closely,
day of our Savior’s death, His glorious resurrec- turning it over and over in his hands, once or
Ɵon, and the promise of death no more, let us twice even stabbing the air with it, and then
conƟnue to reflect on tolerance, which is our ac- suddenly dropped it for a more earnest pursuit of
ceptance, nay, love, of all human beings. Love thy a secƟon of ground that might be parƟcularly
neighbor, as thyself.” A mellifluous hush, like the barren of life, a small plot of dirt untouched by
Holy Spirit whispering, rose through the cathe- the light above. As soon as he’d found it he put
dral. “My Folks, the burdens of our earthly life are his hands to work tracing two lines in the dirt, one
many. So many to conquer; too many perhaps to perpendicular to and intersecƟng the other, and
overcome.” He paused. “O guilt. Remorse. when he’d finished thus, reached into his belt for
O hope! Do you sƟll spring eternal? Friends, bear

14

Revista Adelaide

the hammer. Then he lay down, with his shoul-
ders at the intersecƟng point.
He sat up, but only briefly. This for the purpose of
removing his shoes and then driving the first of
two spikes extracted from them into his stacked
feet. Then he lay down again, and turning, as best
he could repeated the procedure by driving the
second spike into his leŌ hand.
If it weren’t for the fact that he hadn’t the luxury
of being able to hammer into the free hand, he
would have packed a third spike. But for this he
forgave himself.

About the Author:
Kenneth Vanderbeek studied at the Bennington
Writers Workshop, Bennington College, Vermont.
His literary work has most recently appeared in
the Canadian journal, The Nashwaak Re-
view (essay); and in the U.S. journals, Kudzu
House Quarterly and The Bryant Literary Re-
view (ficƟon). He is currently at work on a novel
and short story collecƟon. Vanderbeek writes,
and resides, in St. Louis, Missouri.

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Adelaide Magazine

GRAVEDIGGER

by L. S. Engler

Grayson Miller lived a quiet life, haunted by a Autumn swept in with cool showers and burning
single summer that lingered in his memory like a leaves, nature beginning her slow march toward
ghost. He never tried to escape it, exorcise it, or winter death, and Rebecca’s thoughts turned
shove it away, finding a cold comfort that it was more macabre. She asked how he could stand
there. A reminder of when he could feel some- doing something so morbid, day in and day out,
thing other than the dull ache of longing. It was and he thought about it while shoveling out a
the summer he started digging graves for the resƟng place for another unknown corpse. Even-
church, exchanging his hard labor for a small tually, he gave a simple, sincere answer, the only
place to stay, since he had nowhere else to go. It one he could think of.
was the summer he fell in love for the first Ɵme,
the only Ɵme. Rebecca, from English class, from “It makes me feel alive,” he said without a touch
Calculus, came to visit him while he worked, of irony.
perched on a headstone as he cleaved into the
soil, creaƟng the liƩle pockets where people Rebecca Ɵlted her head, chestnut hair tumbling
would hide their loved ones, their memories, away from her shoulders.
their secrets. He would dig to the rhythm of her
voice as she told him stories of life, postulaƟng on “Would you feel so alive if you were digging that
how it would all end there in the deep pits he dug grave for me?” she asked.
with a single shovel. He liked having her company
while sweat rolled down his back in the heat. He He couldn’t respond, unable to imagine it, but he
liked the way she laughed at her own jokes and found his answer once winter set in. The ground
the way dirt clung to his fingernails despite his was frozen solid, his movements limited by layers
gloves. The way the scent of earth clung to him of clothing for warmth, a different beast than
like a shroud. digging in the summerƟme. He hadn’t dug a grave
for anyone he’d known before, much less some-
SomeƟmes, late at night, Rebecca would stay one he had loved as much as Rebecca. He didn’t
with him in the groundskeeper’s cabin at the far feel alive that day, and he wished he could have
end of the cemetery, where they would watch told her so. Maybe it would have made a differ-
recorded tapes of old horror movies. More oŌen ence. Maybe she’d sƟll be siƫng on top of the
than not, he’d fall asleep in her arms, too worn headstones, babbling, instead of lying six feet
from work to keep his eyes open. She usually under them, silent.
slipped away before morning, but the smell of her
would linger in the small shack, lavender soap, The warmth of summer crept back into his soul
deep cleaning shampoo, something different to when the soil thawed and began to smell of rich
sustain him before he returned to his world of decay again. Just as life returned to the trees and
grass and loam. the grass and the flowers planted by duƟful
mourners, it returned to Grayson. He started his
day with a visit to Rebecca’s grave, picturing her

16

Revista Adelaide
perched on the headstones, chestnut hair tum-
bling away from her shoulders. He’d tell her
about the movie he watched the night before,
imagining himself in her arms as sleep overtook
him. Then he’d hoist his shovel over his broad
shoulders and get back to work, digging graves for
the dead to help himself feel more alive, every
day of his long, quiet life.

About the Author:
L.S. Engler writes from outside of Chicago, though
she grew up chasing dragons in the woods of
Michigan. She is the editor of the World Unknown
Review, as well as the author of many short sto-
ries and a few novels, most recently the Slayer
Saga, a trilogy about zombies. Her work has most
recently appeared in To the Victor, Ghost Stories,
and the Saturday Evening Post

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Adelaide Magazine

HAVE YOU READ THE
BROTHERS KARAMAZOV?

By Richard Dokey

Thunder boomed behind the blackened sky. Ar- It was a nondescript pastry shop like the shops he
thur Hollenbeck ducked into the Ɵny pastry shop. had known when he was young: cubby holes with
He shook his overcoat. A few drops of water ran wooden tables and chairs one sees for sale at the
down behind the collar of his shirt. The water edge of sidewalks, a glass case with trays of
traveled to a spot between his shoulder blades. doughnuts and sweet rolls. Someone in a soiled
apron might make a toasted cheese or tuna sand-
His cell phone rang. wich. On top of the case were plates of pie and
cake, covered by glass domes, in the center of
“Mr. Hollenbeck,” the voice of his secretary said, which were round, black knobs. Always there was
“the FeathercraŌ contract is complete and ready a dome of day-old pastry and a sign that read
for your review.” “two-for-one.” The selecƟons were not choreo-
graphed in polished metal frames against the
“All right, Katherine,” he said. “Thank you. I was back wall, but wriƩen on powdered chalk boards
looking at the Beckler property over here and got next to the case. Like this shop, the coffee table
caught in the rain. It’s really coming down. I’m in was always at the far side of the room. His shops
a small pastry shop on West 24th. I’ll have a cup used shiny aluminum urns to dispense coffee
of coffee and wait it out a bit. I’ll be in directly. from beneath black spigots. A fruit jar held Ɵps.
How about the Crown offer? Any word?” This shop had a table with white porcelain mugs
and a hot plate, upon which sat steaming Pyrex
“I’ve scheduled an appointment for you with Mr. pots. One of the pots had orange print.
Crown for three o’clock.”
Arthur Hollenbeck was amused at this wave of
“Good girl. What would I ever do without you?” nostalgia. He Ɵpped the girl who brought him a
mug of coffee.
“Well, about that raise, then?”
The shop contained an odd assortment of pa-
He laughed. He enjoyed Katherine. She was a kid- trons, nondescript people, a hodge-podge, quite
der. He actually did not know what he would do unlike the people at Starbucks or Peets or Panera,
without her. She organized his enƟre day into an where he took pleasure in seeing himself reflect-
efficient schedule. ed. These people were from cramped apartments
nearby, from kitchens and shops, men in cover-
“I’ll think about it. That is, when I get warm alls, others in plaid shirts and baseball caps, wom-
enough,” he teased. en in print dresses or wrinkled pants, who looked
as if they should be on the line in a cannery. Sev-
He sat under a window and turned his back to the eral students with backpacks thumbed messages,
rain. all the while managing to talk with anyone who
managed to talk.
He did not enjoy using the cell phone. There was
something ephemeral about speaking into a flat,
black box one could carry in a shirt pocket, talking
anyƟme, anywhere with anyone who wanted to
talk. He glanced about the shop.

18

Revista Adelaide

Next to the coffee table, a young woman sat “Yes,” he said. bending closer. “I recognize the
alone reading. She was a student. That is, he as- name.”
sumed that she was a student, but in a kind of out
-of-date way. A brown leather briefcase rested “Oh, have you read The Brothers Karamazov?”
beside her on the floor. She was plain. Yet, when
he looked more closely, he might say that she was “No, no,” he said. “Not that one. I don’t believe I
preƩy, in that vague way something is preƩy ever did, I should say. When I was in school, there
when you first encounter it and before it be- was something by that writer, though.”
comes worn and common. His anxiety about es-
caping the storm was palliated by her odd intensi- “Dostoevsky.”
ty. It was pleasant to sit in a nondescript café sip-
ping burnt coffee with people he would never see “Yes. Is that how you say it?”
again and would not recognize if he did.
“Feodor Dostoevsky.”
Perhaps it was the briefcase. It had a fat belly and
a clasp beneath the handle. His father had been a “That’s the one. It’s difficult to pronounce those
real estate broker and had owned such a brief- names. When you’re not Russian, that is. Is it in-
case. SomeƟmes, when he wasn’t in a hurry for teresƟng?”
work, his father permiƩed him to liŌ the brief-
case. It was a heavy briefcase, filled, he had al- “Oh, yes,” she said. “Very.”
ways believed, with important papers. He was
proud to be able to liŌ it and to hear what his “What’s it about?”
father would say because he had succeeded in
taking it all the way to the front door. His father “Evil,” she said. “And good.”
was dead. His mother was in a care facility on the
other side of the city. He saw his mother when he “Well, I guess that about covers it all, wouldn’t
could. you say?” He laughed.

He remembered the old house. He lay under the She looked at him out of the corner of those
great oak in the back yard, looking up through the enormous green eyes.
ragged leaves at clouds building in a blue sky. It
seemed a moment ago. It was millions of mo- “So, you’re a student,” he said. There could be no
ments, but all the moments were now. Child hood other reason to read such a book.
was a moment, hidden beneath moments, when
feeling came as the wind came, or the rain came “Yes. The University.”
against the cedar fence beyond the great oak, or
the shadows of leaves at evening came, lingering “Ah,” he said. “And what are you studying?”
upon his window pane.
“Nothing in parƟcular,” she said. “That’s the prob-
He shook his head. The coffee mug was empty. lem. I’m interested in so many things. It’s very
He decided for a refill and made his way across hard for me to choose anything. I wish I didn’t
the room. The young woman had the book up. He have to choose, but I know I have to, no maƩer
could not see her face. He saw the name on the what.”
book.
“That’s true,” he said. “It’s hard to make up one’s
“Excuse me,” he said, standing above her. “Isn’t mind, when one is young. I remember trying to
that Russian?” make up my mind.”

She lowered the book. Her eyes were marvelous. “What did you choose?”
They were a translucent green, very bright and
large. “Come to think about it, I believe it chose me. My
father was a broker. I went in for business. I was a
“Yes,” she said. “It’s not in Russian, of course. It’s business major. I stayed on for the MBA.”
just Russian.”
“Oh, how nice,” she said. “It must be good know-
ing what to choose when you start out.”

“Yes. I always thought I was fortunate,” he said.
“And, wouldn’t you know, I am busier now than
ever I was in school. Perhaps that’s just part
of being an adult. You’re right, though. There are

19

Adelaide Magazine

more things these days, so many more for anyone “It seemed the proper thing to do.”
to deal with. These new technologies. It makes
one wonder, doesn’t it?” “And it was, then.”

“About what?” “Yes. Certainly it was.”

“About choosing anything properly. All these dis- “Then you were lucky. You chose something and
tracƟons. That’s what I call them anyway.” He didn’t know if that something was right for you,
nodded toward a nearby table, where other stu- but then it was. I can’t imagine myself being lucky
dents thumbed their machines. that way. I’m terrible with luck. If I don’t know
what I’m doing, it’s always a mess.”
“Oh, yes,” she said. “Yes. I don’t know enough
about anything to choose something wisely. Not “You’ll find the right thing,” he said. “For you, that
really, I mean. I know I must choose. But, then, is. That’s what school is for.”
won’t I have to go ahead and do that something?
How can you choose something and be sure? “I suppose it is,” she said, a bit downcast.
That is, if you can’t know what you’re geƫng into
unƟl you’ve goƩen into it. It is confusing. It’s like “Look here,” he said. “You’ll go off and be quite
my sister. She got married, and then she got un- successful. I’m sure of it. You’ve got sense. And
married. She chose someone because she you’ll have a fine family too.” He smiled. “You
thought she knew him, and then she didn’t know seem too intelligent not to be successful.”
him, and she got divorced because she said that
then she knew him. It’s all so mixed up. One is as She blushed again. “Oh, I don’t know about any of
good as the other, don’t you see? And you don’t that,” she said. “I don’t think of myself that way.”
know if what you’ve chosen is good unƟl aŌer
you’ve chosen it. And there you are.” She “But here you are in school,” he said.
blushed. “Listen to me,” she said. “I’m sorry.”
“Yes, certainly,” she said. “But this something
“No, no,” he replied. “That’s fine. That’s all per- must be something that I truly must do. It has to
fectly natural. It’s true about everyone, parƟcular- be with people. I know at least that much.”
ly when one is so young. We all start out con-
fused.” “Isn’t everything with people?”

She looked across the room. “I have no idea what “I suppose,” she said. “But something truly with
to become,” she said soŌly. “But everyone has to people, even if it’s not important to anyone else
become something, I suppose, to live, I mean. But and nobody knows anything about it but me. If it
how can I make a commitment to something maƩers to me, if it truly maƩers, then that’s what
when I don’t know if that something is good for maƩers. I’ll have chosen the right thing.”
me to commit myself to or not? Am I making any
sense at all?” “I see,” he said.

“Perfect sense,” he said. “When I was your age, I “Sounds silly, I suppose.”
wasn’t commiƩed either.”
“No, not at all,” he said. “There are many paths to
“But you finished your MBA.” success. If you do what maƩers to you, why
wouldn’t that be successful?”
“Well, yes, of course I did, but then it never oc-
curred to me about any commitment. I just want- “It would, then, wouldn’t it?” she said.
ed to stop wasƟng my Ɵme and get on with it.”
“Of course it would. You’re young. You have all of
“Well, anyway, you knew how to choose some- your life.” He pointed at the book. “You like this,
thing.” then?”

“I didn’t know.” “Oh, yes,” she brightened. “Very much. It’s very
deep and very complicated and emoƟonal and
“You chose business.” thoroughly human. I’m lost in it. I don’t think
about anything else when I’m reading.”

“And that’s good?” he asked. “Being lost that
way, I mean.”

20

Revista Adelaide

“Oh, yes,” she said. “You have to be lost in it if
you’re going to understand anything. How else
could someone read something?”

He nodded. “I don’t know,” he said. “I’m not
much of a reader that way. I could never get into
anything that wasn’t real to me. To my life, I
mean. Such things were required, of course, so I
read them. They didn’t seem to maƩer about
anything that I had to do. Not really. They were
so, well, Russian, and they went on forever, with
lecture notes from the professor tacked on. And
all you did at the end was to write a paper that
nobody cared about anyway, most of all the pro-
fessor. Then you forgot about it the next day.”

“You sound like my roommate,” she smiled. “She
hates lit classes.”

“I didn’t hate them, of course,” he said. “They just
were so extraneous. If you know what I mean. I
would think that would be even more so these
days, when there’s hardly enough Ɵme to turn
around.”

“It does feel like that someƟmes,” she sighed.
“Maybe that’s why I love books like this so
much.”

“I only meant, with so much one has to do and so
many distracƟons, there’s no Ɵme for being lost.”
He smiled.

“It must be nice, then, to be so successful,” she
said. “You’ve done exactly what you wanted to
do.”

He thought a moment.

“I think I am successful,” he said, with some em-
barrassment. “I’ve met my goals, certainly.”

“Oh, then there’s that,” she said. “How do I set
goals when I’m not interested enough in anything
to know where I’m going so I can set goals? I
don’t stay long enough with something to decide
anything. I run around in all sorts of direcƟons.
Goals are like places on an iƟnerary to me. I can’t
get off anywhere because, well, where am I go-
ing? I don’t want to be like my sister. So places
just fly by.”

He remembered how, as a young man just out of
school, he had considered throwing a bag over his
shoulder and tramping through France and Spain,
not knowing where to stay, but staying whenever
he got there.

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Adelaide Magazine

“It’s important to set goals,” he said. “Me too,” he said.

“I know it is,” she said. “If I didn’t want to get He returned to the table.
good at something, why else would I be in
school?” Outside, the rain pounded the striped awning. It
struck the sidewalk, where it splashed in a spar-
“Indeed,” he said, smiling. “When one is young, kling rim. Someone turned on the heat. The room
it’s natural, I think, to feel somewhat lost. It’s a grew warm and cozy. It was pleasant siƫng alone
big world, but growing up is the only way we get with people he did not know.
on with it.” He winked, tapping the book.
He had tolerated all that was irrelevant to arrive
The mug was cold. He filled it with hot coffee. He at exactly the place where all was important. Im-
wanted to sit down. aginary worlds revealed nothing. They made him
want to stand under a hot shower or to swim in a
“Well,” he smiled. “Then good luck to you. And cold sea. They made him stare out of windows at
happy being lost with the Karamazov brothers. I the fog or the rain or the blue air of a spring day
admire your ability to slog through and enjoy between gray buildings where he had gone to
something required like that.” school, where others, like himself, had strode
across campus lawns toward their desƟnies, Ɵcket
“Oh, it’s not required,” she said. holders determined not to miss the train. He had
dreamed once, as everyone dreams, of a world
“It’s not?” he said. beauƟful beyond anything necessary or real, a
world he sƟll recalled, vaguely, at Ɵmes, like a
“No. I’m just reading it.” She looked at him with shower upon a cedar fence or a leaf shadowed
those marvelous green eyes. “I love this book. But upon a window pane. Finally, now, without re-
thank you anyway,” she said. “You’ve been most morse, he dreamed of no world but the world in
kind and understanding. And I suppose I can’t which he dreamed.
wish you more luck than you’ve already had.” She
grinned. “That might be unlucky. I’ve enjoyed
talking to you.”

About the Author:

Richard Dokey's stories appear regularly in the
reviews. They have won awards and prizes, have
been cited in Best American Short Stories, Best of
the West, have been nominated for the Pushcart
Prize and have been reprinted in numerous re-
gional and naƟonal texts and anthologies. He has
novels and story collecƟons to his credit. "Pale
Morning Dun," his collecƟon, published by Uni-
versity of Missouri Press, was nominated for the
American Book Award. Stories have appeared
most recently in Alaska Quarterly Review, Grain
(Canada), Natural Bridge, Southern HumaniƟes
Review, Lumina and The ChaƩahoochee Review.

22

Revista Adelaide

A KIND GESTURE

by Anthony Saunders

It was a dark night, like the others he’d experi- the woman cry as she sat in the clean car he
enced before it. He was always walking but never handed her a card his card saying he’d help when-
knew why, he had a great life, ton of money but ever she needed it. AŌer a few months the man
one day decided to walk away from it all and sƟll started creaƟng jobs for the less fortunate and in
he wonders why. Lights flashed by as the hours doing so increased his own wealth which he put
did but he kept walking. Then suddenly one of into creaƟng homes and jobs the man had felt
those lights stopped and asked if he needed a liŌ. alive for the first Ɵme and it was thanks to one
Not having been asked before he agreed to the kind gesture from someone who had only a smile
kind gesture of a stranger. SƟll he was going no- and a ride to give.
where what was the point of the ride he won-
dered. All he could do was sit in silence and think
as he became one of the lights that flashed by.
The driver began to speak asking if he was hungry
but not only did he acknowledge the kind gesture
he realized his savior was a woman. She began
reaching trough her bag trying to find something
to eat as she did he looked around and noƟced
the car was a mess the seats were torn and there
was a smell. He seen that this woman had nothing
but was willing to give and he realized that the
reason he leŌ, he was so selfish in his life believ-
ing that everyone was able to get by on their
own. He walked for days and then spending 1hr in
a car realized what he needed to do. He asked the
woman if she could take him home. She looked at
him and smiled then he pointed behind them to
imply it’s the way they came from she began to
laugh as she turned the car around to take him
home. They arrived at his house and she was
amazed at the size and couldn’t believe he had
been walking. The man asked her to wait a sec
while he went and grabbed something for her,
she waited to see what he was going to do. Then
the lights of a car creeped down the man’s drive
way once the cars were close enough he stepped
out and handed her the keys. This gesture made

23

Adelaide Magazine

THE CELLAR

by Laura Solomon

When we found Sam he weighed only 14 kilos could make a major difference in one boy’s life,
and was nonverbal. It was very difficult to com- help shape the course of his desƟny.
municate with him. If you got too close to him he
would bite. I didn’t blame him for his aggression. It was one of the neighbours who alerted social
He’d been locked in his parents’ cellar for 3 years, welfare to the case. They had heard screams
with minimal food, someƟmes eaƟng rats he’d coming from the direcƟon of the cellar and seen
caught with his bare hands. He was six years old the parents going down there with vegetable
when I found him. By this stage he was more scraps. Once I been assigned the case, I drove to
animal than human. His primal insƟncts had de- the address at around 10pm at night. I did not
veloped but he had not developed speech and he want to alert the parents to my presence as I
was not toilet trained. He soiled himself regularly knew they would deny all abuse and would try
– it was me who cleaned up the mess. I got him and stop me from saving the boy. I crept around
into nappies and tried to teach him to use the the side of the house with a flashlight and a blan-
toilet. I was a social worker who had been as- ket, and found the cellar door. It was locked.
signed the case. It had been me who had found Knowing that this would probably be the case, I
him, curled up in a ball, chained to the wall, with had thought ahead and had bought bolt cuƩers
skinny limbs, a bloated tummy and burn marks on with me. I snipped through the lock and pushed
him. His hair was maƩed and dirty and full of open the door. A soŌ whimpering came from one
nits. The boss had assigned me the case to test corner. I walked in the direcƟon of the noise and
whether or not I was ready for promoƟon. I was saw a small boy curled up in the foetal posiƟon on
determined to do a good job. a cardboard box. From where I stood I could see
what looked like burn marks on his skin.
My name was Sally and I had a real passion for
child protecƟon because of what I had lived I took a deep breath and walked towards him,
through in my childhood. My mother used to holding out my hand in what I thought was a
drag me around by the hair and put me in baths friendly gesture. As soon as I got close to him, he
that were either boiling hot or freezing cold. I bit my hand, drawing blood. I remained calm and
used to get terrible carpet burns I had to hide tried to speak soothing words. I had to get him
from the other kids at school. She used to have a out of here and into the car. I moved behind him
‘Time Out’ room she would lock me in if I and wrapped the blanket around his shoulders,
‘misbehaved’. If I accidentally broke something, picking him up in my arms. He thrashed and re-
ate food from the fridge because I was hungry or sisted at first, but I stroked his back and he re-
got up too early and woke her up she would laxed a liƩle and let me carry him out to the car. I
shove me in Time Out and lock the door, trapping didn’t even know if he understood English but I
me in there. I never knew how long I would be in kept talking to him.
there for or what I had to do to be let out. So
when the boss assigned me Sam’s case I felt that I “It’s going to be okay”, I said. “Everything’s going
to turn out fine now. You’ve been rescued.”

24

Revista Adelaide

He made no reply. I put him in the back seat and straw. It was noƟceable the amount of teeth that
put the kiddie locks on, then started driving to the were missing – when he opened his mouth I could
nearest place that could tend to his wounds, Mer- see huge gaps; he had obviously had a number of
cy Hospital. Some of those burns looked preƩy teeth extracted. A smile came to his face when
bad. he saw the clothes. His eyes darted nervously
towards the door, perhaps wondering if his par-
I arrived at the hospital twenty minutes later and ents would show up. It would take a while for
walked through the sliding doors into A&E. I ap- him to learn to trust me because it was an excep-
proached the counter. Ɵonally bad abuse case.

“Hello”, I said. “I’ve got a young boy here who’s Later that aŌernoon I went around to see the
been severely neglected and abused. He has parents with the police. We walked up the weed
burns that need tending to. Is there somebody strewn path. BoƩles of Woodstock liƩered the
who can take care of this.” front porch. One of the cops knocked on the
door. A woman answered. Her appearance was a
“Name?” asked the nurse, rather abruptly, given shock, she was incredibly thin, sƟll in her night-
the circumstances. gown even though it was the aŌernoon, her eyes
glazed and her stance wobbly.
“My name is Sally Roberston. I’m not sure of the
boy’s first name, but he belongs to the Phillips “What do you want?” She snapped
household.”
“We are here to talk to you about your son.” Re-
The office had done some checks on the family plied one of the cops
before sending me around. The parents were P
addicts on the dole. The father had been in jail “I don’t have a son.” She said, her stance immedi-
for drug dealing. We liŌed the boy up onto the ately becoming defensive. AƩempƟng to shut the
bed. The doctor came in to look at him. He de- door. The cop reacted fast and stuck his foot in
clared that the boy had malnutriƟon, a severe the door to prevent it from closing.
case of head lice, infected burn wounds, roƩen
teeth and was severely underweight. They want- “We need to take you and your husband to the
ed to keep him in overnight to give him IV fluids staƟon to ask you a few quesƟons.” Said the cop
and I agreed that this should be the case. They
told me they were going to shave his head to get “Bill!” screamed the woman “The bloody coppers
rid of the lice and give him anƟbioƟcs and that he are here!”
might have to be put under to get his teeth re-
moved. The doctor gave the boy a sedaƟve as he An equally disheveled man appeared behind the
seemed very anxious. I gave them my details and woman.
told them to ring me the next day. I asked to go
and see the boy before I leŌ. They said he might “Whats going on?” Asked the man “We done
be a bit drowsy from the sedaƟve but that I could nuthin wrong.”
have five minutes with him. I entered the room,
the liƩle soul looked so small in the big hospital The cop managed to talk them into geƫng into
bed, his eyes half closed. I took his hand and he the police car with minimal fuss and I followed
flinched. I told him to stay strong, that he was in behind in my car.
good care and that I would come and see him
tomorrow. Once at the staƟon I wasn’t permiƩed to be in the
interview room but I stuck around anyway.
I didn’t sleep a wink that night, thinking about the
poor boy. On the way home I stopped in at the I was told that the parents denied everything at
local Farmers and bought him a complete new set first but then succumbed to the interrogaƟon and
of clothes – a Superman T-shirt, a nice pair of charges were being pressed. They would appear
jeans and a hoodie plus some underwear. I called in court this Friday and I could go along if I want-
by the hospital on the way to work and found ed.
my young charge sipping a cold drink through a
I was also told that they had been in touch with
the boy’s Aunt and Uncle and that they had
agreed to take the boy in. I was given their details

25

Adelaide Magazine

and appointed as the boy’s social worker to over- About the Author:
see his care.
Laura Solomon has a 2.1 in English Literature
Two days later I picked the boy up from hospital. (Victoria University, 1997) and a Masters degree
He was wearing his new clothes I had brought in Computer Science (University of London, 2003).
him. I put him into the back seat of my car. I
talked to him on the way asking him his name but Her books include Black Light, Nothing LasƟng,
he didn’t reply; he looked like he was in shock. AlternaƟve Medicine, An ImitaƟon of Life, Instant
Messages, Vera Magpie, Hilary and David, In
Arriving at his Aunt’s & Uncle’s address the house Vitro, The Shingle Bar Sea Monster and Other
looked well kept in a nice neighborhood. Knock- Stories, University Days, Freda Kahlo’s Cry, Brain
ing on the door a man answered. Looking at the GraŌ, Taking Wainui and Marsha's Deal.
boy he frowned and said abruptly,
She has won prizes in Bridport, Edwin Morgan,
“Who’s this ragamuffin?” Ware Poets, Willesden Herald, Mere Literary Fes-
Ɵval, and Essex Poetry FesƟval compeƟƟons.
I replied “He’s your nephew the police contacted
you the other day and you agreed to take him in She was short-listed for the 2009 Virginia Prize
as he has been neglected and abused by his par- and the 2014 InternaƟonal Rubery Award and
ents, your brother.” won the 2009 Proverse Prize. She has had work
accepted in the Edinburgh Review and Wasafiri
“Hey Beryl!” the man called over his shoulder. A (UK), Takahe and Landfall (NZ). She has judged
woman appeared. the SenƟnel Quarterly Short Story CompeƟƟon.

Goes around with the police to see the parents. Her play ‘The Dummy Bride’ was part of the 1996
Press charges, parents go to jail. Wellington Fringe FesƟval and her play ‘Sprout’
was part of the 2005 Edinburgh Fringe FesƟval.
They send him to live with an uncle but he does
not get looked aŌer properly. In the end social
worker adopts him.

In the end, I adopted him. I thought it best. How
else was I going to ensure he was properly looked
aŌer? I tended to him with a motherly love. I
taught him to read and write, and tamed his na-
ture which, aŌer all the abuse, had become sav-
age.

26

Revista Adelaide

PUNISHMENT

by Ruth Moors-D'Eredita

I’m not sure how much you already know. This is “It’s yoga breathing, Bobby,” she said. “Everything
not something I’m proud of. isn’t always about you.”

It was twelve years ago. There was a good kid, he One night I came in late, drunk, and could barely
was fourteen, two years younger than you are walk. I bumped hard into the dresser in our bed-
now. His name was Anthony Green. room. Mom sat up in bed and told me not to
come home like that anymore.
I shot him, and he died.
“I’m sick of the goddamned drinking,” she said. “If
I was a union electrician back then. Mom and I you think you’re going to pass out every night like
were separated. You were four years old. your father, you’re wrong.” My father was a good
guy, and he worked hard, but Mom was right, he
I was not a great dad, and I was not a great adult. drank. He drank in his chair in the living room
I’d bounced around for a while aŌer you were every night unƟl he passed out.
born. I wanted to work, but I also wanted to
drink. When the union job opened up, I took it. I didn’t know when I was a kid that, your dad’s an
But I had no seniority, and the economy was bad. alcoholic, you’re a siƫng duck for it. I’m not ex-
I’d go down to the union hall every day and check cusing myself. I want you to know you have to be
the job chart. Most days they didn’t use me. I was careful. If you remember anything from your
barely making a living that year. Sweet Sixteen today, honey, remember that.

Mom held it all together for us. She’d get home The next morning Mom took you to preschool,
from work and make dinner and play with you. came back in the house, and threw me out. She
She read you your books before bed. She folded told me to shape up. “Come get your things aŌer
the laundry and watched her shows on TV at work,” she said.
night.
I went to stay with Grandmom.
I mostly drank. I drank in the house, and when
Mom gave me the eye, I drank in the backyard. I I’d stop drinking, and make it a week, a month,
busted things up. I drove drunk. and that’s when I knew I was in a baƩle. Even on
the days I was working, when I didn’t feel like I
Mom got sick of it. I knew I was on thin ice with was going to puke, I felt off.
her. It unnerved me, like something was coming
and I didn’t know what it was or how to get my- I worked HVAC on the convenƟon center for a
self out of the way of it. She started looking at me while, then they put me on the parking garage at
with this sadness, and taking deep breaths. the stadium. I couldn’t concentrate for longer
than a few minutes. I thought too far ahead. I
“The breathing is how you tune me out,” I told panicked I’d never stay sober. Coffee went down
her. like acid. I couldn’t eat. I slipped and drank a few
Ɵmes. AŌer a few beers, I felt beƩer.

27

Adelaide Magazine

The day I shot Anthony, I’d been sober again for a That was my frame of mind when Doherty told
few weeks. But I hadn’t seen you in a month. me to clock in. Before I got in his truck, I went out
Mom wasn’t calling me back. I had the shakes. to mine and got my BereƩa. I tucked it under my
That morning, I was down at the union hall look- shirt.
ing at the job board. One of the foremen, Mike
Doherty, came up to me. I should have told Doherty I was on edge, but I
was inƟmidated. Doherty was not the type of guy
I’d never been on a job with Doherty before. He to chat. He was listening to the radio. The Phils
was an old-Ɵmer, and kind of cantankerous. He were ten games out already, the second week of
was next in line to run our local. It felt like a May. They’d lost three of the last four at home. I
chance to me. remember Doherty shaking his head and snap-
ping off the radio like he couldn’t take it anymore.
“You’re with me today, Bob,” he said. “Clock in We pulled up to a video store.
and meet me out back.”
The store was in an old brick building with apart-
What a shithole his truck was. ments upstairs. They’d been on auxiliary power
for a few days. The guys who went up in the buck-
He says to me, “We have to look at 21st and et to check the pole earlier said the transformer
Lehigh.” checked out fine. It was our job to go inside and
check the panel boards.
Let me stop here and back up and say a couple
things. A group of kids stood on the corner. Up in an
apartment window, a woman looked at us. The
Number one, Philly has the oldest electrical grid entrance to the store was grimy and the front
in the country. We don’t shoot power out to one windows were caged over. I followed Doherty
spot, like with direct current. It’s alternaƟng, and inside.
there’s a lot of places for the grid to crash, all that
extra equipment to balance the current. And it “Yeah, how you doing?” Doherty said to the guy
had been raining. When it rains hard, under- behind the counter. “Here to check your electri-
ground equipment goes down. Every component cal.”
has to be cleaned and tested before they’ll send
power out again. And North Philly is not at the The guy pointed to the back room. I took my
top of anyone’s list for fixing things when they go flashlight from my belt and turned it on.
down.
We saw a hallway and door. Doherty opened the
Number two, my enƟre life, I avoided north Philly. door, and in the dim light we saw a toilet and
Most white people did. Every day, we heard janitorial supplies. No panel board anywhere.
about shooƟngs and carjacks and gangs. One
year, my mom went completely ballisƟc because Doherty said, “Probably in the cellar.”
the city was going to bus north Philly kids to our
school. And my dad, like with everything else in “Want me to go ahead? See what I can see?”
his life, was disappointed by north Philly. When
he got home from the service, he went to phar- I was trying to make a good impression with
macy school at Temple University. He loved it up Doherty. I needed the income to prove myself to
there, he loved Broad Street, he loved the neigh- your mom. If a guy like Doherty liked you, you
borhood. He hated that it went downhill. He’d worked.
read an arƟcle in the paper and say, “I guess
they’ll knife you for a nickel up there now.” He’d I started down the cellar.
watch the evening news and say, “Jesus Christ,
what did they do to Beirut? It looks like north I didn’t make it three steps when I hear a commo-
Philly.” Ɵon on the landing behind me.

He never thought about why that happened out I turned, and in the beam of my flashlight saw an
there, and I didn’t either. animal hanging from Doherty’s pant leg. Doherty
cursed and kicked the wall and whatever it was
fell off and ran past my boots into the cellar. We
heard it hit the water.

28

Revista Adelaide

I got itchy all over. I remember Anthony’s eyes. The excitement shin-
ing in them. Anthony’s eyes were filled with that
“Jesus Christ,” Doherty said. “How wet is it down wonder liƩle kids lose aŌer a while. He was hav-
there?” ing fun. I can sƟll see his sneakers and his pants.
They were nice school uniform pants. He had a
I shined my light and we both saw water up to the neat haircut, shaved up the side. I remember
second stair. thinking he wasn’t very big.

“Yeah, okay, no,” Doherty said. Anthony held out his hand and told me to give
him my wallet. I looked down past his open palm.
I followed him back into the store. The kids who On the floor, the kids were going through
were out on the corner when we arrived were Doherty’s pockets. I was scared. I thought to
standing inside now, joking around up front. reach inside my shirt and grab my BereƩa. In-
stead, I saw myself put my wallet in Anthony’s
“Yeah, we didn’t find anything,” Doherty said to hand.
the guy behind the counter. “Someone will get
back to you.” Anthony liŌed his shirt and put my wallet in his
waistband. Then he raised his fist like he was go-
The store was narrow, and the kids faced us, ing to pop me, too, like his friend popped
standing shoulder to shoulder in a liƩle semi- Doherty.
circle between us and the door.
I reared back a liƩle and Anthony’s fist grazed my
“Excuse me, son,” Doherty said to a big kid in the shoulder. I lost my balance and lurched backward.
middle. I tripped over Doherty’s leg and landed on my
back on the floor next to him. Doherty was gasp-
The kid didn’t move. ing, struggling to get up. I tasted stomach acid in
my mouth. I looked up and Anthony was strad-
“Excuse me, son,” Doherty said again. dling me, looking down at me. I grabbed inside
my shirt for my BereƩa and leaned up and fired it
This Ɵme Doherty took a liƩle quarter step and at him.
started in just slightly with his shoulder between
the big kid and the one next to him. The kid on Anthony fell back. He was making high, gulping
Doherty’s leŌ yielded a liƩle, but the big one noises. Now Doherty was on his knees, paƫng
planted himself and lowered his chin at Doherty. himself franƟcally. He looked at me and saw the
Some alert shot up inside me and surged into my BereƩa.
brain, like a flare.
I got on my feet and knelt next to Anthony. Blood
That fast the big kid swung and knocked Doherty was pulsing from his neck. It was staining the
to the ground. I lunged to grab Doherty but he fell floor between us. Doherty looked from the blood
hard and one of the other kids jumped on top of to me with wild eyes. He shouted, “Who told you
him and starƟng pounding him. The guy at the to fucking carry on my fucking job!”
counter shouted “Hey hey hey!”
I spread my hands on Anthony’s collarbone and
I wanted to get my back against something. I pressed down with my palms. I thought soon we
doubted I could make it out to the truck, and I would hear sirens, and I knelt there, pressing
couldn’t leave Doherty in there alone. The kids to down. Anthony’s blood filled the spaces between
the leŌ of me were laughing. They were young. I my fingers and colored my hands up to the wrists.
just remember thinking No no no. I squared off at
the kid in front of me, Anthony Green. “Help is coming. Help is coming, buddy,” I told
Anthony.
During the invesƟgaƟon, the guy at the counter
told the detecƟves that he heard me say, No In that moment, all I wanted was for Anthony to
dude, come on, dude. He heard me say Doherty live. WanƟng that, being unable to bring him
was an old man, tell your friends to leave him back, has crowded out everything else. Anthony
alone, you can have our money. Call it a day, man.

I don’t remember talking to Anthony.

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Adelaide Magazine

alive was all I wanted in the moments aŌer I shot there was anger in me in that moment, too. My
him, and all I’ve wanted since. I have never been anger pulled the trigger. And I haven’t been pun-
clearer about anything. What I want most in life is ished for that.
for Anthony Green to be alive.
The day of the acquiƩal, I drove up to see Mom
I was sƟll kneeling over him when the police got and you. In the driveway up at the house, there
there. They took Anthony to the ER at Temple, were leaves all over the pavement. I saw your
and he died. scooter leaning against the front step. I stood
there for a minute, looking at the doorbell I in-
Anthony’s mother gave a statement to the prose- stalled when Mom and I moved in. I rang it.
cutor. The day Anthony died, she’d allowed him
to walk home from school for the first Ɵme. He I heard you run for the door and wait there on the
hated taking the bus. His mother said Anthony other side before opening it, just like Mom taught
would have had straight A’s that semester, but he you. Then I heard Mom, and the door opened.
had a C in Spanish. She told him he could walk
home with his friends when he got the C up to a “Daddy!” you said. You were excited to see me.
B. So aŌer every Spanish class, Anthony asked his
teacher to figure his average. The day before I I bent down to pick you up. “Hi Peach,” I said. You
shot Anthony, he got an A on a quiz. That aŌer- inspected my ear with your liƩle fingers. I felt
noon, he got off the bus, ran inside, showed his your breath on my cheek.
mother his B average.
“Mommy, it’s Daddy,” you said, like a liƩle report-
The next day he walked home with his friends. On er.
the way they all stopped at the video store to see
the Nintendos. Mom looked at you and me and said, “We have
gymnasƟcs at four.”
Anthony’s mother said, “My son is dead because
they see us different. My son wasn’t worth any- I said to her, “Can I talk to you?”
thing to the man who shot him.”
“Honey, go on, get ready for tumbling,” Mom said
I can never stop hearing what she said. Because to you. “Daddy will sƟll be here when you come
when I shot Anthony, everyone assured me, you down.”
get jumped, all bets are off, you’re jusƟfied. My
lawyer said it and it turned out to be true. The I will never be the kind of person who thinks
witnesses did not help the prosecutor. The guy at ahead to reassure my own kid like that. I put you
the counter told how before he ran out the back, down and Mom and I watched you run upstairs.
he heard me plead with Anthony. The lady up-
stairs didn’t hear anything. And none of the kids Mom said, “Well?”
remembered what happened the same way. One
of them was twelve years old. Two of them had “Donna, I just came from court. I came straight
priors. All but the liƩle one had reefer. My lawyer here to see you,” I said.
punched holes in all their stories. I got what they
call a judgment of acquiƩal. And here is what I “Are you drinking?”
could never say out loud, but I want to say to you.
“No.”
Once I gave Anthony my wallet, I didn’t have to
shoot him. I could have stayed quiet down there Silence.
on the floor. I know right from wrong. The detec-
Ɵves who interviewed me got it right. Anthony “The judge granted the acquiƩal.”
would have followed the rest of his friends out
the door. I knew that to be true then. Reading his “Well you didn’t do it on purpose. Jesus.”
mother’s statement didn’t so much confirm this
truth to me as repeat what I already knew was I wanted to touch her. I wanted to reach my arms
true. I killed Anthony in a moment of fear, but around her and gather her in and put my face
against her neck and close my eyes and bawl,
right there. My mind was saying, I did do it on
purpose.

Instead I said, “I will do beƩer.”

30

Revista Adelaide

“Bobby, spare me,” she said. “And you’re plan- I said, “Give me another chance, Donna.”
ning to do what about work?”
I said it so low, I hardly heard it myself. But I said
“They say I can go back. I don’t know how much it.
work I’ll get, but I can go back. Probably have to
do nights for a while.” “We have to go,” she said.

“Nights, Bobby. Are you serious?” I walked you out to the car and strapped you in
your seat. I watched you and Mom drive up the
I closed my eyes. I knew what she was going to street and turn onto the avenue. I got in my truck
say. and drove back downtown.

The union didn’t have to do anything for me. The Inside the union hall, guys were reading the paper
cost-cuƫng guy in the mayor’s office said not and drinking coffee. I went into the back office.
only did the unions rip the city off on pricing, but Doherty’s door was open.
were criminals, too. A couple union thugs killed
an honor student who’d done nothing more than “Bob,” he said, “What can I do for you?”
walk into a video store aŌer school. Maybe, the
mayor said, it was Ɵme for the city to re-open all He did not stand up or even look at me full on.
the union contracts. Maybe it was Ɵme to start
thinking about right-to-work laws. Make the city “Hey Mike,” I said. “Thanks for taking me back.”
more compeƟƟve for business.
“Them’s the rules. So what can I do you for,” he
says again.

But Doherty dug in. He told us one big non-union “Have anything you could put me on?”
building goes up, that’s like Stage 1 cancer. You
throw everything you got at it, try to cure it. Two Silence.
go up, it’s Stage 2. You don’t want it to get any
worse. You hit the open job sites—the non-union I tried again. “I’m trying to patch things up with
sites—in the middle of the night and tear them my wife. I have to work.”
up. Doherty’s guys could destroy hundreds of
thousands of dollars in concrete and steel and As soon as I heard my words in the air between
equipment and labor in half an hour. us, I thought about what Mom said when she
kicked me out. Not everything is about me.
Mom knew what was what.
I tried to rephrase.
“First off,” she said, “nights is the worst thing you
can do. They’ll take advantage of you now. They’ll “You can count on me, Mike. I’m sorry about
have you out there busƟng up sites in the middle what happened.”
of the night, like you see in the paper. And for
what? You get acquiƩed, and now you’re going to “When you available?”
go bust up scab sites for them? You going to pris-
on for them aŌer all? What are you thinking?” “Now.”

“Not all night work is like that,” I said. “There’s “Third shiŌ?”
good third shiŌ work too.”
“Sure,” I said.

“Might have something for you in south Jersey.”

She rolled her eyes at me. You know your mom. “Thanks, Mike.”
Her big thing is, AcƟons speak louder than words.
I had not even got to what I came to tell her. “Don’t thank me. See Dave Joyce.”

So I said, “I want to live here with you and “Thank you,” I said anyway.
Kayleigh again.”
At the pay window, Doherty’s secretary handed
Just then you came running down the steps in me a slip of paper with Dave Joyce’s number. I
your gymnasƟcs ouƞit and handed Mom your called him and he told me third shiŌ on a cold
pink hairband. In two seconds, Mom put your hair storage warehouse job started at ten, he’d meet
in that ponytail like a liƩle waterfall down your me there.
back.

31

Adelaide Magazine

I drove east over the bridge across the Delaware. About the Author:
On the Jersey side, I filled up the truck at a Quik-
Stop. I went inside to pay and bought a sandwich. Ruth lives and works in Vienna, Virginia, with her
At a picnic table in the parking lot, I ate and husband and three children. She is a member of
watched the planes take off at the airport. The the Woodbridge and Stafford workshops and is
sun set behind the oil tanks on the Pennsy side. I wriƟng her first novel. Punishment is her first
got back in my truck and slept for a while. published story."

Then I drove out to the job site to be on Ɵme for
Dave Joyce.

When I got out there, the site was at the edge of
the Pine Barrens. I could see they’d cleared acre-
age for a warehouse. It’s always so dark out
there. There was no temporary lighƟng up yet,
and a lot of the Ɵme, I installed the temp lighƟng.
So I started geƫng my tools out of the back of my
truck. If there’d been a second shiŌ on that job, it
was gone. In my headlights, I saw they had the
concrete pad done, and were starƟng to frame.

I turned off my truck. Soon Dave Joyce showed
up. He flipped on his headlamp so we could see.
He had his belt on. He had an eight-pound sledge
in one hand and his toolbox in the other.

He looked me over and said, “Ready? Follow me.”

I walked behind him across an apron of surge
gravel. He reached the chain link security barrier
first. In the light of his headlamp, I saw the con-
tractor’s signage. It was an open site. There was
no union on the job, and there was no third shiŌ.
Someone leŌ the fork latch unlocked for us. I nev-
er found out who. Dave Joyce liŌed it and we
walked through the gate.

I followed him to the edge of the concrete pad
and tried to swallow the fullness in my throat. I
watched Dave Joyce line himself up to where the
first, newly installed anchor bolt entered its steel
column. He hoisted the sledge like a baseball bat,
swung low at the bolt, and smashed it. The new-
cured concrete cracked all around. The steel col-
umn it held in place rang and vibrated and gave
way. The column Ɵlted away from its base and
took the concrete with it. Like when a tree falls
and pulls up its root ball.

The half-circle of dark, piney woods around us
absorbed the sound like it was nothing.

“Now do the rest of them,” Dave Joyce said, and
handed me the sledge.

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Revista Adelaide

COACHING MOM

by Amada Matei

I watch as my son scampers onto the playground, Suave body spray feels a liƩle less fancy. I decide I
stops at the swing set, and touches his forehead hate this woman and her pigtailed kid. Logan
to its wooden beam. I bite my lower lip unƟl I stops running and stands by the swings as if con-
taste blood. He holds his head in that awkward flicted who to chase down next. He flaps his arms
posiƟon for about five seconds, just long enough while rocking his body back and forth like an os-
for me to noƟce and cringe, then he joins the oth- trich ready to strike. He looks at nothing in parƟc-
er children in playing tag. I already regret my deci- ular, just keeps flapping. I think maybe he’ll catch
sion to bring him here, but being cooped up in the a breeze and take flight this Ɵme. Caroline slows
house is no way to live. her pace, stopping herself a moment before Lo-
gan rocks forward into her. He does not seem to
A few moments later, he kneels to the ground appreciate the near calamity. He just sways and
and taps his forehead to the soŌ, brown turf as if flaps. He is mesmerized by something two feet
he were a Muslim praying towards Mecca. The ahead of him. Caroline stares at my son, appears
other children stop, stare at him with impaƟence, bored by him, and trots off to the rock wall where
then resume their play once he is back on his two other liƩle girls are already climbing.
feet. His forehead feels the seesaw, the metal
fireman’s pole, and the plasƟc sliding tunnel. “Is Logan in pre-school?” The Coach mother asks.

My insƟnct is to do what I normally do: I repri- “Yes. Just started last month.”
mand him by smacking his forehead with the
palm of my hand. But today, the other mothers “We just started this year too. Although we had
are watching. Chasing him down to thump him on her tested. She really should be in first grade. She
the head seems like a lunaƟc move, even by my reads on a first-grade level. But my husband is
standards. Perhaps this is my moment of clarity. afraid she’ll get lost among all the tall kids. BeƩer
socialize her with kids her own age first. Just have
“Which one’s yours?” asks a mom siƫng on the her skip kindergarten instead. I think she’s al-
green bench besides me. She’s a size two at the ready bored. Can Logan read yet?”
most, curly blond hair, and not one wrinkle under
her hazel eyes. Her Coach backpack sits neatly on “He’s learning his ABC’s,” I say. I want to say
her lap. something else. Something clever, like studies
have shown early readers do no beƩer in life than
“The boy in blue. Logan,” I say. late readers. But I didn’t think of it fast enough
and now it’s too late.
“I love this age. Mine’s Caroline. The spunky one
in pigtails. She amazes me every day. She counted Coach mom gives me a nod and half smile. “Most
to a hundred at breakfast today. First Ɵme with- boys are slow to mature. Don’t worry, he’ll catch
out stopping.” up.”

I force a smile and take in her lilac aroma; my Logan bends down and examines something. He

33

Adelaide Magazine

then stands back up and kicks it. He stomps it Ɵmes by now. They run off to the swing Ɵre and
with his leŌ foot. Logan jumps with both feet and Logan remains standing, assessing the top of the
loses his balance on the way down and lands on wall. He looks defeated.
his buƩ. My son wails and runs to me with limp
arms swaying by his side. He places his head on I feel a rain drop. A few more splash on my head.
my lap. I push him from me. I am disgusted with
him. Then I am disgusted with myself. “Caroline,” Coach mom calls out, cupping her
hands around red lips. “It’s starƟng to rain.” She
I turn to peek at Coach mom expecƟng her to moƟons for her child with a wave. Caroline com-
smirk or roll her eyes or give me a patronizing plies and runs to her mother, who pulls out a
look. Instead, she gives my son her full aƩenƟon. boƩle of hand saniƟzer and a light purple jacket.
“Oh no!” she says in a baby voice and digs into
her Coach backpack, pulling out a moist “Logan,” I call out. “Let’s go. It’s raining.” Logan
toweleƩe. She extends her manicured hand to my looks away. I shout louder. He is either ignoring
son and he takes it. She pulls him closer and be- me or is lost in Logan’s world.
gins wiping the dirt away from his palms, while
she inspects it for scraps or cuts. “No booboos. All “Caroline, pumpkin. Go tell that liƩle boy that his
clean.” mommy is calling for him.” Caroline skips back
out with her purple jacket zipped up and hoodie
Logan stops crying and bends down toward me, on. I watch her tap Logan on the shoulder and she
wiping his face on my Kmart jeans, snot trailing guides him back to me. I imagine Caroline at
from his nose. “He’s not the most coordinated,” I home as a perfect helper. I bet she keeps her
say, feeling compelled to explain as if children room clean and places her dirty laundry in the
don’t normally fall on their buƩs while clowning hamper without being asked, and feeds the pets
on playgrounds. all with an indelible smile on her face. Her mom
probably pats her on the head, and takes her out
“That’s what boys do. They’re goofy. They fall.” for ice-cream, and they read together in the park
before puƩering around at the mall in matching
“Stop crying and be a big boy,” I say to Logan ouƞits like sugary imbeciles.
even though all his tears have been transferred
onto me and he is no longer crying. Coach mom “We need to go,” I tell Logan.
pulls out a pack of Ɵssues, removes one and
hands it to me. I sense she already knows I came “No. Not done playing.”
ill prepared. I thought of nothing to bring to the
playground, while Coach mom most likely has an “Yes, you are. It’s raining.”
apocalypse preparedness kit in her bag.
“D -d-d don’t care.”
I accept the soŌ Ɵssue and wrap it around Logan’s
wet nose. He sucks the snot in like a vacuum “I said let’s go.” I grit my teeth. I want to shake
cleaner. “Stop sucking it in. Blow it out.” He him, but I control myself for the sake of the on-
makes snorƟng sounds with his nose. lookers. I don’t know how to convince him with-
out shaking him. SomeƟmes I think I can shake
“Pretend you are blowing out birthday candles the normal back into him. So far that hasn’t hap-
with your nose,” Coach mom tells him. He blows pened.
perfectly and fills the Ɵssue with green ooze.
The raindrops get faƩer and weƩer.
“Go back and play with those nice girls,” I say.
“Nice meeƟng you,” says Coach mom. “But we
“I k-k-k-k can’t climb the w-w-w-wall.” have to run.”

“Go,” I try not to shout but it comes off as I wave with one hand and grab hold of Logan’s
shouƟng. Logan meanders back and stops at the arm with the other. I Ɵghten my grip as he pulls
gray climbing wall, touching the red and yellow away. He paws at me with his free hand and lung-
pegs with his forehead. The girls have climbed es at me, buƫng his head against my forearm. His
the five-foot wall forwards and backwards three head is like steel and I know he’ll leave a bruise.

I smack his forehead. I do it repeatedly. The
sound of my hand clapping against head fosters

34

Revista Adelaide

my anger. Every slap is harder and meaner and at
this very moment I believe this discipline will
somehow relieve his addicƟon of hugging every
fucking thing with his bony head. I know people
around us are now looking. I don’t care. I hate
myself at this moment. I keep hiƫng anyway.

Logan keeps his head down, protecƟng his face
unƟl I finally stop long enough for him to look up
at me with those piƟful, giant brown eyes. He has
no idea why I am enraged and this enrages me
more. His misunderstanding of me feels defiant
and deliberate, as if he exudes innocence to stra-
tegically mask his baneful comportment. I hate
myself.

I strike his arm with my fist, and he finally lets go.
I grab the same arm and turn him around and
scold his buƩ with the palm of my hand. I do it
again and my hand sƟngs. Logan is wailing. People
stare. Coach mom runs to us and puts herself
between us like a boxing referee. She pries my
white knuckles off Logan’s arm. He hides under
the bench.

“Stop it,” yells Coach mom. “That lady is calling
the police. You need to calm down.” She points to
a fat woman with a cell phone to her ear.

“I tried to stop,” I whisper. I breathe deeply to
swallow my heart back into my chest. Logan is
cowering and crying under the bench, keeping his
forehead to the ground. He picks his head up one
inch, then taps it back to earth. He does it again.
And again.

I hate myself more. I kneel to him and wrap my
arms around his skinny middle to pull him out. He
resists, balling himself up like a pill bug.

“Let him lie there for a minute. Walk it off. You
both need space.” Coach mom sounds like my
therapist, calming voice and intelligent. I hate her
more. I let her guide me towards the swing set. I
am panƟng less.

Seconds later, I escape from her hold and run
back to the bench on my hands and knees, and I
stuff myself under the bench with my son. “I’m so
sorry. So sorry.” I caress him and pet him.

His whimpers are soŌer now. I love my son. He’s
like a puppy nipping at my ankle unƟl it bleeds
and I have no choice but to kick him away. I kiss
his head. I hear sirens in the distance.

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Adelaide Magazine

“Sick ass bitch,” I hear someone say. People are “It will get beƩer,” she says.
sƟll watching. I feel them closer.
“When? I’m sƟll waiƟng.”
The police officer has her brown hair rolled into a
neat bun near the top of her head. Her bullet “It will get beƩer. You can’t stop unƟl it gets
proof vest looks funny on a such a small woman. beƩer.”
“I understand special needs children can be
stressful, especially when you’re a single parent. I hate it when other people make sense.
My son is fiŌeen years-old and he’s sƟll a chal-
lenge.” That night I sit by Logan’s bed and read him a
book. He darts his forehead towards the page
I tell her I love my son. She tells me she knows. unƟl his skin feels the paper. He has to do that to
She calls children’s services so I can get some every page. I take deep breaths and we finish the
good resources and find ideas that work and get book and I tuck him in. I bend down so my fore-
support; that’s what she explains to me. I think I head touches his forehead.
might lose my son and I feel slightly giddy. Then I
realize I might lose my son and I start to cry. “I love you,” I say.

The officer places her hand on my shoulder and “I’m sorry mommy. W-w-w was I bad?”
tells me a social worker will visit my home in the
morning and I’m free to go. I take a deep breath “No. I was bad. But I will get beƩer. I won’t stop
knowing I escaped arrest because my son didn’t unƟl I get beƩer.”
show visible injuries.
I love my son.

About the Author:

Amada Matei lives and works in Cleveland, Ohio.
She supervises a child abuse hotline while wriƟng
in her spare Ɵme. This is her first short story.

36

Revista Adelaide

WELL DONE
BOO BOO

by Kathryn Merriam

Five years. It has only been five years, and so hands with Piglet on the front. Both of them are
much has happened in those five years. smiling. If you look at it with Winnie the Pooh
facing you, the top right corner cries with joy.
I would not trade him for the world. He is so pre- Actually, there is not a corner anymore. AŌer
cious. There are really no words to describe how nineteen years of placing that corner between my
much a mother loves her child. All I have to do is pointer and middle fingers and rubbing it for com-
look into his sea-foam green eyes and know that fort, the corner reƟred. The stuffing has retreated
this is where I am supposed to be. This is who I to inches inside the thin protecƟng layer of fabric.
was meant to be from the very beginning. It was The stuffing and the fabric dance together as two
hard at first to accept my life, but I have come to separate parts now, but I know that Winnie
know that I would not trade it for the world. I would not trade his corner back for the aƩenƟon
know that I have the support of my family; I al- that he got from me. And now Winnie the Pooh
ways have. can bond with my son. He sƟll smells like camp-
fire. Not maƩer what I did to wash out that smell,
The rain teases the surface water of the lake. The it is sƟll here. My dad always smelled like camp-
sun tries its best to peek out, but the clouds are fire, and since Winnie, my dad, and I were once
doing well at hiding him. As I look out the white- inseparable, we all acquired my dad’s scent. Tak-
paneled window, I think of my dad. It is his birth- ing a deep breath takes me back.
day today! He is turning forty today! Wow! I al-
ways teased him about geƫng old, but he em- Not too long ago, my dad held me in his arms as I
braced it. AŌer Jason gets home, we are going to am holding Ezel. We would read scriptures to-
out to Javi’s, his favorite Mexican restaurant, to gether. I would scan the page leŌ to right just like
celebrate! It is hard to focus on his birthday Daddy. When I was in elementary school, I sat on
though because of this yellow spot on the win- his shoulders as we walked around the lake in our
dow is driving me crazy. I laugh at myself as I backyard, through the park on the other side,
acknowledge that the spot is a reflecƟon of Win- across the populated street, and to the front
nie the Pooh. steps of the school. As I grew up, he conƟnued to
escort me to school. Looking back, I took ad-
Looking down, I see Winnie the Pooh cuddling vantage of those days-those days he was with me.
close to Ezel. My dad gave me that blanket the It was embarrassing as a high schooler to have my
day I was born. Over Ɵme, however, he became father walk with me to school every morning. I
more than a blanket. As a toddler, I took him eve- always tried to hide inside myself, but at least he
rywhere with me. The older I got the less I took was there. AŌer he dropped me off, he would
him with me, but I sƟll looked forward to cuddling walk to Tony’s Tinker Mechanic Shop and would
with him every night. He danced with me when I work hard all-day long. AŌer school, I would
told him about my accomplishments and wiped join him at the shop and he would teach me a few
my tears when I cried. Winnie the Pooh is holding

37

Adelaide Magazine

things about cars. Let me just say that it was so because he loves me. And he loves his country so
boring, but I know that he loved it, so I half- much. He loves me so much, that he leŌ to fight
listened. in the war. He knows that I can handle myself.
Well, he thinks he knows. What must have been
AŌer homework, dinner, and dancing, he sang me oblivious to him was the fact that I could not do it
“You are My Sunshine” to me every night right without him. It had always been him and me, nev-
aŌer prayers. SomeƟmes he would use a deep er just me, or just him. UnƟl he leŌ.
voice, and on his sillier days, he would sing it in
the highest pitch he could manage. I fell asleep to School kept me busy. Being an undergraduate
his voice every night and woke up most mornings pushed me to my limits, but it was easier than
to that tune...I sƟll do. watching my dad walk out that door to a world
out of my control. I did not really make any
Watching him walk out that door, not knowing if friends at first. I was so sad that I did not feel like
his voice would ever fill these rooms again, not talking. Going to classes was hard enough. Noth-
knowing if his arms would ever wrap around me ing was the same. I knew that he would want me
again, or not knowing if his smile would ever light to try hard, and that was the only reason I got
up my world again, killed me. I have always liked myself out of bed every morning. His desire for
to be in control, to know what will come, to know me to be successful moƟved me to work hard. I
what lies ahead. I had done preƩy good with mean, at least I had a dad. He was not necessarily
that…unƟl the day he leŌ. The second he stepped with me physically, but he was on Earth. And he
foot off the front porch, a part of me leŌ with did not leave me on purpose in an effort to aban-
him. I no longer could control what would hap- don me. It was, instead, to protect me.
pen. I no longer knew what the future held. I
could not plan it, for I had absolutely no idea. I was not always accepƟng of his departure. His
uniform did not symbolize freedom, or courage,
I was a senior in high school when he deployed. or hope. When I saw it, I saw loneliness. When I
He served overseas missions before I was born, saw his black uniform, it was like looking at my
but aŌer an explosion, he chose to stay inland, life when he leŌ. When I saw his black uniform, I
which is when he met my mom. They thought it saw the absence of life when he leŌ. When I saw
was love, but she had been seeing other men the his black uniform, I saw all of my joy swallowed
whole Ɵme. My dad didn’t find out unƟl aŌer up as he walked farther and farther away into the
they were married. Not that I am an expert, but abyss of a world far from me.
from what I hear, my mom was really not the
type to seƩle down. I was born two months be- I always wondered what he was doing, where he
fore the divorce. She handed me over to my dad’s was, and how he was doing. I pictured him sur-
custody without any hesitaƟon. I am sure she had prising me at the university. I would walk around
other things to do. The divorce was hard on my the corner and he would be standing there with
dad. He blamed himself, but I tried to tell him open arms. Or I would step into the house, and he
that it wasn’t his fault. As part of the Marine would be standing in the front hall with his per-
Corps Reserves, I knew he could be called in fectly white smile. I prayed every day that he
again, but I prayed that day would never come. It would be there with me. I wanted him to hold me
did. again. I wanted him to know how much I love
him. I wanted to hear his voice. I wanted him
Why is life so complicated? He served his Ɵme, back. But life does not work that way.
fulfilled his Ɵme, unƟl the call came. I knew it was
that call. Within two days, he was gone. Just like One year went by and I had not heard the sound
my mom. What did I do to lose my parents? Was I of my dad’s voice, or seen his eyes light up when
not good enough? Did I not deserve to be loved? he saw me, or smelled the laundry detergent of
his prisƟne uniform, and it hurt so much. I was
Raising me must not have been easy. I don’t even not strong enough to let the pain go. Instead, I
want to imagine what he experienced. I mean, I learned to control it, and when it was the proper
behaved myself, for the most part. He endured all Ɵme, I let it out. The weekends consisted of me
of my childhood for me. All of that Ɵme. Effort. driving home to take a walk around our property,
Pain. Support. DevoƟon. All of it was for me

38

Revista Adelaide

but most of the Ɵme, I ended up cuƫng the walk asked me to join him for dinner. His excuse was
short and just siƫng by the lake. In the evening, I our successful compleƟon of the midterm. I saw
would lay on the edge of the lake close enough to right through him, but I accepted. I knew that we
the water that as the waves charged up the got along before the date, but that date reminded
shore, they Ɵckled my feet. I would look up to see me of what it was like to be happy. AŌer my dad
a medley of russet, fuchsia, rose, and coral colors leŌ, I thought that my ability to be happy leŌ with
start to fade behind the lake. The evenings were him, but Jason reminded me that I have always
the only Ɵmes of the week that I truly enjoyed known how to be happy. He listened to me as I
being me. I got to think, to write in my journal, talked about my pain, my loneliness, my past. We
and to be myself, by myself. did not get to every detail, but that was not the
point. The point was that he was sƟll there listen-
With all of my heart and soul, I wanted to see my ing to me, interested in what I had to say, and
daddy. He was my best friend, but he was gone, intrigued by me, the real me. He wanted to learn
maybe somewhere I didn’t know existed. I missed more about me. And wow! I wanted to get to
those Ɵmes when he aƩempted to braid my hair, know him. We conƟnued to date every weekend.
when he prayed with me every night before I fell He went to my soccer games and I went to his
asleep, or when he kissed me on the forehead. debate compeƟƟons.
When I looked into his eyes, I knew without a
shadow of a doubt that I was loved, that I was AŌer a year of daƟng, he and I were starƟng our
cherished more than I really even know. Was it last year at the university. The day before classes
too much to ask to have him back for a few days? started, he asked me to join him on a beach trip. I
We could walk along the lake in the backyard and thought nothing of it other than him listening to
sing and dance and be goofy like we always did. I my desire to go on a road trip together. It was
would give anything to see my dad in person, to one way that I thought I would know for sure if he
feel his arms around me, to hear his chuckle in my was perfect for me. And he was…he is!
ear.
Not once did we turn on the radio. There were
Two years aŌer he leŌ, I had a life-changing mo- only a few moments of silence that were due to
ment. I looked in the mirror and was shocked by us catching our breath. That was the perfect road
what I saw. Not necessarily in a bad way, but in a trip. Karaoke. Laughter. Jokes. Deep talks. Reveal-
disappointed way. I looked at myself and heard ing talks. And so. Much. Fun. That trip only got
my dad’s voice, “Carter, what are you doing?” He beƩer.
would always ask me that when he knew I could
do beƩer, or when he knew that I knew I was not We took a walk on the beach that night. The
doing my best. It was in that moment that I knew moon was swaying back and forth in Ɵme with
I was not doing my best, that I was not being my the ocean. The breeze played with my hair. His
best. I decided I would get involved. I wanted to fingers were entwined with mine. We walked and
meet more people, maybe even make some talked. I felt so peaceful. I was where I was sup-
friends, so I did. AŌer that decision was made, I posed to be standing next to who I was supposed
heard him praise me, “Well done, Boo Boo. You to be standing next to. It was perfect. The whimsi-
are my pride and joy.” When I heard that, I knew cal evening took my thoughts to the heavens.
that he was proud of me. I knew that I was on the
path that God intended for me. I joined the soc- “Carter! Carter! Carter!” Jason was laughing at
cer team that spring and met even met some me.
friends.
“What?”
One friend in parƟcular stood out. At first, he was
just part of our group. Jason was sweet, kind, fun- “Where are you?” I giggled.
ny, and then he became my best friend. We stud-
ied together almost every day unƟl two weeks “I was just thinking.” It hit me then that I was
aŌer our study sessions. That was when he asked looking down at him. I usually had to gaze up a
me on an official date. He brought flowers and liƩle bit in order to see him, but his eyes were
beneath mine. Oh my gosh! He was on one knee!
I was so oblivious to his plans, which I am sƟll

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Adelaide Magazine

grateful for. That was the best surprise I had ever An hour later, I woke up. I felt dead. Dead to the
had. world. Dead to feeling. I did not want to think or
to feel. But I was grateful I could feel Jason next
“Carter, you are the love of my life. You are the to me. I was grateful I could smell the citrus waŌ-
mystery in my life that I want to spend forever ing off of him. I was grateful I could hear him
solving. You are my breath. You are my universe. breathing. He was real. He was there.
Carter Rose HunƟngton, will you marry me?” I
flapped my arms for at least twenty seconds. The “Why, God? Why did you take him from
voice I had seconds before was gone. The tear me?” I was yelling at God. I was so Ɵred of pray-
ducts I had goƩen to know so well opened. I final- ing and not geƫng what I wanted.
ly gained my composure and replied.
“Babe, He can hear you,” Jason’s tone was
“Yes! Yes, I will marry you, Jason Chase Evans!” gentle and so full of love.

There was so much joy in my life, but I had not “I know, but why, Jason? Why did He take
forgoƩen what it had taken for me to get to that my dad from me?”
point. I was crying less, but the pain sƟll ran deep.
I had not heard from my dad in years. The more I “I don’t know. What I do know is that He
thought of him, the more I smelled campfire. He loves you.” It took everything I had to not yell at
always smelled like he had been camping, but I him, but it wasn’t Jason’s fault. It wasn’t my fault.
could never figure out why. Jason became my It wasn’t even God’s fault. That day, God taught
rock, the one person I could lean on. I knew he me that blaming Him and yelling at Him got me
would not let me fall. He endured all of my crying nowhere but farther in the depths of pain and
and my outbursts of frustraƟon. I helped him despair. AŌer all, I had a choice. I could blame
through his mom’s passing. We decided to move Him, get angry, fight against Him, and lose. Or, I
forward, to really move forward. I knew that I could accept that I had no control over my dad’s
would never stop praying for, thinking about, or death and that if I worked with God, I could feel
loving my dad. He loved me before anyone else beƩer, get beƩer, and be beƩer.
on Earth ever did. I was determined to not give
up, to keep hoping, to keep moving. I was grateful that he died fighƟng for his country
and for me, for that is how he would have wanted
Jason and I planned to get married two months it. Without him, I would not have been the person
later. I knew that if I were to talk to my dad, he I was. I would not be the person I am today.
would want me to go through with the wedding. Thinking posiƟvely only lasted a few minutes
He would want me to be happy. Jason makes me though. I felt my heart break in two. He would not
happier than anyone ever has. I will not lie and be there to walk me down the aisle. He would not
say that looking forward to my wedding did not be there to dance with me. He would not be
have any pain, because it did. I was so giddy, so in there to give me away. I would not even be able
love, so happy...I sƟll am. But deep inside me, to see his body, but instead, just the box that his
where only Jason and God are let in, resides the body was enclosed in.
pain of my dad’s absence. His absence had be-
come such a “normal thing”, and I hated it. The American flag wrapped around his coffin. It
was folded and handed to me at his funeral. My
Our wedding was coming up in only one month. face was so red and blotchy, but I did not care.
Everything was coming together…unƟl the leƩer Without having Jason next to me, I would have
came. It was from the Marine Corps, and the sec- broken, not bent. Only Jason was giving me the
ond I saw that seal, my heart dropped. I called strength to keep going. AŌer working so hard to
Jason but couldn’t say anything. He came over. I become independent, to be able to take on life by
broke down into a fit of tears. I rested my head in myself, when it came down to it, I was not strong
his lap. He leaned over and kissed the top of my enough. Jason says I am strong, but I was not
head. He ran his fingers through my hair. I opened strong then. Jason held me up as we walked to
the leƩer. I let out a sound that had never the car.
reached my ears. Jason looked at me. He recog-
nized my pain. I let go of all of my feelings. Our wedding was postponed. It just didn’t feel
right geƫng married two weeks aŌer the funeral,

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Revista Adelaide

so we postponed it. I could tell that Jason did not
want to, but he understood. We waited three
months and could not wait any longer. It was
worth the wait. He has always been worth the
wait.

“BeauƟful, are you okay?”

“Yeah.” I thought I could overcome it, but it is
consuming me. The absence of my first best
friend was dampening my mood…on my wedding
day! What bride is sad on her wedding day?

The smile on his face melted my heart. “I know
what that means: you are not really okay. What’s
up?” Jason and I decided to take a walk along the
lake before the craziness ensued. The sun had not
even shown itself yet, but Jason wanted to take
some Ɵme to ourselves before the crazy fun truly
began.

“Handsome, he isn’t here. And-gosh-I don’t want
to take away from the day. I don’t want to take
away the value of you in my life. Jason, I love you
more than words can describe. I cherish you, eve-
rything about you. But the part of me that I gave
to my dad when he went overseas is sƟll with
him. I just need you to forgive me.” He stopped
walking and turned toward me. He framed my
face with his hands.

“Oh, Carter. You mean more to me than anything
or anyone on this earth. You are my universe. You
are what makes me smile when I see you every
day. AŌer today, I can wake up and not have to
wait to look at your beauƟful, engaging eyes. I can
wake up and play with your hair, make you break-
fast, give you kisses. I can spend every possible
second with you. You have my heart, Carter, and I
am yours.” Tears were filling my eyes. I did not
want him to think of himself as anything less than
who he is.

“And you are mine. You have my heart.” I marvel
at his paƟence, his forgiveness, his uncondiƟonal
love every day.

“I know that you love your dad so much. AŌer
your mom leŌ, he took up that responsibility of
raising you, and if I could have met him, I would
thank him for doing such a wonderful job. He is
your family, and now I get the pleasure and honor
of being a part of your family. You have nothing
to apologize for. Just know that I love you, Carter.

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Adelaide Magazine

I cherish everything about you.” He enfolded me there. I felt him kiss my cheek. I heard him singing
in his arms and I melted into his embrace. All I to me. I smelled his notorious scent of campfire. I
ever needed was Jason, and he is here, and we pictured his smile. I could taste the waffles he
are about to become one. I was so ready! used to make for me. To honor him, my wedding
colors were red, white, and blue. I also had a
“God, thank you so much for my life. Thank you breakfast buffet. Breakfast was his favorite meal,
for the Ɵme I had with my dad. Thank you for so much so that we ate pancakes, crepes, eggs,
Jason. Thank you for the Ɵme I have with Jason. bacon, and waffles for dinner oŌen. I picked up
Thank you for my future. Thank you for not giving that habit.
up on me. Thank you for loving me.” My prayer
was on the shorter side, but it came from the The rain is sƟll playing with the lake water. The
heart and was the sincerest prayer I had ever cat tails bend to the rain’s will. The sun is singing
shared with God. as it breaks through the clouds. I feel Jason come
up behind me. His arms entangle me and Ezel. He
Jason and I unraveled and he held my hand on places a kiss on my cheek and rests his chin on my
our way back to the driveway. I brought his hand shoulder. I outline his face with my finger as I turn
to my lips and gave it a brush. to face him. I stare at those green eyes and know.
I know that I am where I am supposed to be. I
“You are my sunshine, my boo boo sunshine. You melt into Jason’s chest as he brushes my forehead
make me happy when skies are grey…” Amongst with his lips. Ezel sleeps in my leŌ arm. Man, wife,
the crazy fun of the day, I heard that song, that and child. A family. My dad is here too, smiling.
song that my daddy sang to me every night be- He knows that I love him. He knows that I am
fore he leŌ. That song was like breathing to me. I happy. He knows that I have let go of the pain
knew that moment that he was there. How could and the hurt. I have started to embrace life. I am
I doubt him? He may not have been there physi- truly living. “Well done, Boo Boo. You are my
cally, but he was there spiritually. I felt his pride and joy.”
presence and knew without a doubt that he was

About the Author:

Born in Utah but raised in California, Kathryn is a
lover of life! She always had a passion for wriƟng
but it has become more prominent in recent
years! She loves spending Ɵme with her family
and friends, Jersey cows, her dog, smiling, laugh-
ing, long walks on the beach, wriƟng, sunsets, and
making sure others feel loved. She is a junior at
Brigham Young University-Idaho with a major in
English and dreams to be an author and an edi-
tor!

42

Revista Adelaide

DREGS

by Jessica Ciosek

“You know,” she said, twisƟng her feet for a 360 “I could go for a café au lait,” she said, leading me
view, “I think I could kick your ass in these boots.” toward Stumptown. I didn’t want anything you
She smiled when she said it, sly and baiƟng. could buy at a coffee shop, but it was easier to let
her lead.
I nodded, standing over her. “Reckon you
could,” I kissed her hard on the mouth then whis- The place was empty, Wednesday before
pered in her ear, “but I doubt you’d need boots to Thanksgiving, everyone below 34th street was
do that.” geƫng out of town. We were staying put, claim-
ing we liked an empty city. Truth was, I had lied
She shrugged, dropped her eyes back to the my way out of a trip to my parents’ lavish neuro-
mirror. “That’s true. But with these I’d look like a sis. “Bring flowers and a nice chardonnay for your
bad ass doing it.” Rail thin, fragile blonde hair, hostess,” my mother said when I told her I had
Siobhan had the wild eye about her. She’d fend plans. Siobhan’s family lived across the pond, so
for herself if she had to, and she’d had to. They what did she care.
weren’t stories she told me, but her eyes took on
a hooded look, a certain careful squint when she We took a table near the window, the place
thought she might get caught wanƟng. Trust fund thick with the oily scent of over-roasted beans
baby that I was, I did my best to make sure that and boredom.
never happened. Pulling a slim plaƟnum card
from my wallet, I tendered it without a word. “I got you a double espresso,” she said. “Pull
Siobhan kissed my neck. you ouƩa your nasty funk.” I sƟrred three pack-
ets of sugar into it and drank it in one gulp. Her
“Thank you, my prince,” she whispered and lipsƟck leŌ a magenta kiss on her cup’s white lid.
sauntered out of the store in those boots, dis- She eyed me broadly. What the fuck? I thought
tressed silver leather with a round-toe, a heavy about saying, but I shrugged. The energy for dis-
sole. On the street she planted a gentle kick in dain draining out of me like the helium in those
the crack of my ass. clownish balloons they sally forth every fucking
third Thursday in November.
The day was overcast, gray, chilly, the sky hung
drab like a cloak of mourning. Fall was usually “It’s the fourth Thursday in November,” Si-
more beauƟful in New York, but this year it obhan countered, and it surprised me to know I’d
weighed heavy, Ɵred, unwilling to try, sick of itself said it out loud. “You think you’d know that
in a way that seemed desƟned for drug addicƟon. growing up with Thanksgiving and all.”
But Siobhan and I, we were six months clean and
sober which was supposed to be a good thing. I shrugged. “You think I’d give a shit, too,
wouldn’t ya?” She laughed.
She tucked her arm in mine. “Brrr,” she whis-
pered. A Ɵckle of goose bumps ran down my “Holidays are for suckers.”
neck like an icy sauce dribbled over my bones.
“Not if you eat right,” Siobhan said.

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Adelaide Magazine

My cellphone vibrated on the marble tabletop. I smiled like some overgrown Shirley Temple. I
glanced at it, but let it wriggle and buzz. Siobhan laughed, shook my head.
grabbed it.
“But seriously, I already told my mother we
“Who’s Brad?” she asked. had plans.”

“My brother.” “She didn’t believe you. She’s worried.”

“I didn’t know you had a brother.” I shrugged. “Ha!”
She eyed me slyly, dangled a finger over the
green “accept” buƩon. I shook my head but “That’s what he said.” She held my phone up
found it hard to give a shit either way. Rehab as proof. “Besides, I could do with a home-
may have cleared my head, but my life sƟll cooked meal.”
yawned out in front of me like an empty linoleum
-lined corridor, long, ugly and going nowhere. “This one is gonna be catered, babe. Count on
She put the phone back on the table, unan- it.”
swered.
“Wow, Mr. Fucking ParƟcular, how about I do
It vibrated again. She leaned over the edge of kick your ass with these new boots of mine?” She
the table, squinted. winked, raising one silver toe to peek just above
the edge of the table. “It could be kinky.”
“He insists you pick up.”
And it was. With the efficiency of a nurse, she
I shrugged again. undressed us both. I sprawled across the cold
maƩress, the dank chill of the fiŌh floor walk-up
She grabbed the phone from the table, curling about my toes. She slipped her boots back
punched in the code and started typing. on and grinned. My member chubby but my
mind sƟll wallowing in the tepid steam of my own
“You wouldn’t like my brother,” I said, watch- ennui, I rolled onto my stomach. She stood over
ing her thumbs jump around the keyboard. “He’s me, pounding my half-frozen ass like stamping
kind of a pompous ass.” the loose dirt of a recent grave and reciƟng my
sins in nursery rhyme cadence.
She kept at it, the phone buzzed incoming re-
plies. A whole text conversaƟon with my brother “One for being grumpy, two for fake smiling,
whom she’d never met. three for not geƫng hard, four for being hand-
some, five for buying me boots, six for not fucking
Finally, she slapped my leg. “Let’s go,” she me, seven for flirƟng with the shoe store girl.”
said, “I wanna pack a bag.”
“Didn’t,” I said.
“Go ahead.”
“Did,” she countered and kicked me hard from
“Oh, no, babe. This is your family.” the side. I can’t recall the next of my transgres-
sions because aŌer number ten she dropped onto
“Wait. You did not.” the middle of my back, curled her body over and
bit my buƩ cheeks, hard.
“I did,” she nodded with a knowing grin.
“Sounds very nice, actually. Your sister-in-law has “Spread ‘em,” she said with a slap, then
a friend who owns a gallery.” She sipped her jammed her finger into my asshole and told me to
coffee. cough. I did as instructed. She laughed the laugh
of witches. “Hahahahahahahahaha,” she cackled.
“Yeah, some asshole’s rich wife. She studied “I’m a doctor.”
art history, did a semester in Milan and now she’s
an expert.” Pressing those boots hard into my hip, she
rolled me over, straddled me and rocked her wet
“Rich people buy art.” She winked. regions against me unƟl I was hard and thinking
of nothing but her Ɵght ass. I reached for her.
“Not my art. I’ve tried with that crowd.” She grabbed my hands, flipped her legs forward

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
She poked a finger into her cheek, twisted it and

44

Revista Adelaide

and pinned my arms against the bed with her “Let’s take a nap, then we’ll go.” She wrapped
boots. the ice pack around her head with a fresh towel.

SƟll astride but not leƫng me inside, she “Siobhan,” I said.
rocked and moaned, “Oh, Danny. Oh fuck, I wish
you could fuck me,” she cried, tears streaming “Shhhh,” she said, pulled me in around her.
down her face.
Waking in the early evening dark, Siobhan lay
“Let me,” I whispered, “let me in.” curved under my protecƟve arm.

Her face turned wicked, sly and baiƟng again. “Hey,” I whispered. She said nothing. I kissed
“But you are a bad boy,” she leered. “You can’t her shoulder. “You need a blanket, baby.” I
come in.” I pushed against her booted feet. She stood, pulled an extra from the foot of bed and
pushed back, the barely worn rubber cuƫng laid it over her. In the bathroom, I looked at my
molded paƩerns into the soŌ underbelly of my ass. It was decorated with red tread marks and
forearms. circles of bites like evidence of some newfound
tropical disease. Next Ɵme I’d ask for bruises.
Finally, I threw her off with the force of my
hips against her Ɵny pelvis. She fell back toward Barely a bump under my faded green quilt, she
the foot of the bed and tumbled off the edge, her looked peaceful, almost fairy-like, pale white,
head smacking soundly on the ancient cast iron eyes soŌly closed, head enrobed with the thin
radiator. blue towel. At the edge of her lip, a trail of spiƩle
dried the muted brown of milky coffee. I pulled
“Fuck!” she cried. the towel back. The ice pack, just a flat bag of
water now, fell away revealing a perfectly round,
I scrambled to the end of the bed. She glared small lump under the thin sheen of Siobhan’s flax-
up at me from a crumpled curl between the foot en hair. I shook her shoulder.
of the bed and the wall.
“Hey babe, I think we beƩer take you in for a
“Ouch,” she said reaching to gingerly probe the look. That bump is kinda ugly.”
damage. Her fingers came back clean.
She didn’t move. I shook her again, put a hand
I climbed down next to her. “Baby, I’m so sor- on her cheek. She was cold. “Siobhan?” I turned
ry. Let me get some ice.” her fully over onto her back. Her shoulder
flipped, her arm fell onto the maƩress with a
She was siƫng up on the floor, her hand cra- thud. “Siobhan?!” I checked for breathing, I
dling her broken head when I came back with the could not find a pulse, I pumped her chest, called
ice. She let me press it there, ever so gently, a her name, over and over and over again.
wince in her eyes as I did. I curled my arm around
her, kissed her delicately. “I’m so sorry, sweeƟe.” She was sƟll wearing the boots when the para-
medics arrived. They pumped and they prodded,
She grinned wickedly, grabbed ahold of my worked in that expert way of medical people
inner thigh and dug her nails deep into the vul- seeking signs of life.
nerable flesh. I screamed, she laughed.
“She’s gone I’m afraid,” the smaller man said
“Aw, baby, you are a sick one.” I kissed her lips aŌer not nearly enough Ɵme.
hard, cradling her head. “Maybe we ought to
have that looked at,” I whispered. The thicker man shook his head.

“AŌer,” she whispered back. I lay on the floor, “What?” I looked from one to the other of
pulled her on top of me, we rocked and pinched, them for answers.
licked and screwed unƟl neither of us had any-
thing leŌ. I liŌed her onto the bed, cupping a “She’s passed on.”
hand over the bump on the back of her head.
“No,” I said. “NO, no, no.” My head thickened,
“Maybe we should go that 24-hour clinic on eyes went dark.
Chambers,” I said.

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Adelaide Magazine

The fat man grabbed ahold of my elbow. “Keep it clean, man, we’ll get this handled,”
“Maybe you ought to take a seat.” I fell onto the the lawyer said. He shook both our hands. I
bed. thanked him then climbed into the warmed leath-
er seat beside Brad.
“Siobhan,” I whispered, reaching for her.
“You’ll come for the holiday. I’ll bring you back
“Very sorry, sir,” the man said, intercepƟng my to the city Friday.”
hand. “Let’s have you sit over here.” He pulled
me up, led me to the chair on the other side of “Dude, can’t you just drop me off…”
the room. I never touched her again.
“You’re coming out to the house and you’re
“It can’t be,” I said. “We were just...” gonna act like you remember how to have a nor-
mal Thanksgiving. We’ve got twenty-four people
“What a way to go,” I heard Siobhan’s voice, coming and you’re not gonna fuck it up.”
looked over where she lay on the bed. Her lips
never moved. I started to cry. “O – fucking – kay, Dad.”

The cop pulled me to standing, slapped the He glanced at me sideways, shrugged. “Sorry,
cuffs on my wrists. “Let’s go, pal.” They led me man. Just this is preƩy messed up, you know?”
passed where she lay on the bed. I leaned toward
her, looking to kiss her one last Ɵme. The cop “I know.” I leaned my head against the smooth
yanked my arm. “Not happening.” I followed him glass, relieved in a way that he wasn’t giving me a
out. choice. “Thanks, man.”

The 1st Precinct on the night before Thanksgiving His wife, Cassie, a “darling girl”, labeled so by our
is an odd sort of place, belligerent and frightening mother, was at the kitchen sink when we rolled
in its jolly decoraƟons. in. A wholesome, trim bruneƩe, her smile flashed
equal parts concern and annoyance.
They took photos of my ass. Siobhan laughed
when I had to drop my pants. “I put a pair of Brad’s pajamas in the guest
room for you.”
“Bet you wish it was me taking those pictures,
don’t you?” And she cackled that weird witch’s “Thanks.” I nodded. “Really sorry about this.”
laugh again. “If it was, I’d be up your ass with the
camera in a second. Find out what makes you “S’alright.” She smiled halfway. Brad threw
Ɵck.” PatheƟcally, the thought turned me on. his keys on the table.
She knew that, too. “You always were a pervert,
you were just afraid to admit it.” I shrugged. “I’m going to bed,” Cassie said. She paƩed my
shoulder, pecked Brad on the cheek.
My brother answered his cell, groggy and irrita-
ble. “Dude, what?” “You wanna shower or a beer?” Brad asked.
Apparently my recent rehab stay hadn’t made the
“I swear it was an accident,” I said. “Don’t tell family news cycle.
Mom and Dad.” The pleading in my voice sick-
ened me. “How about a shower and a beer? Or a
scotch?”
In navy cashmere overcoats and hushed Italian
loafers, Brad and his lawyer friend strode in like Brad smiled. “That’s my boy. The guest bed-
the well-dressed cavalry. They had me out in less room is through there.” My clothes felt dirty, out
than thirty minutes. of place, dark and used, in the perfect glow of the
off-white surroundings. I hid them in the empty
“My kid brother,” Brad introduced me aŌer I closet and turned the shower on hot.
was free.
“What the fuck?” Siobhan said, her voice a
harsh whisper in my head. “Your brother’s got a
Hampton’s estate and you never told me? Let
alone carried my sorry ass out here for a visit.”

46

Revista Adelaide

“We were supposed to come tomorrow.” “Thanks, man.” The fire hissed, ice claƩered
against crystal, I breathed thin slices of air fla-
“Oh, right,” she sighed. “Damn, that would vored with guilty relief.
have been nice.”
“Ain’t that just the sweetest damn thing, big
“I’m really sorry, babe.” brother coming to the rescue,” Siobhan said.

She snorted. I shrugged and raised my glass. “To Siobhan.”

Brad was siƫng by the fire, a scotch in hand and a “To Siobhan,” Brad echoed fraternally.
glass ready for me.
“Fuck you,” Siobhan said.
“Damn dude, nice place.”
We finished the boƩle.
“Yea, thanks. I’ll show you around in the
morning.” The gas from the fireplace hissed gen- The bed wrapped around my drunken ass like
tly between us. comforƟng clouds of hell.

“So what happened?” he asked turning a “SƟll can’t believe you never brought me out
raised eyebrow my way. I pulled a long chug of to this place,” she said. “We coulda had some fun
my scotch. in that bed.”

“God’s truth, we were fucking around. She hit “It’s kinda gross though.” I spread my arms
her head on the radiator preƩy hard, but we wide, as if to prevent myself being swallowed by
thought we’d finish then see about geƫng it the bed’s fathomless pillow top.
looked at. Really stupid. We fell asleep. I woke
up. She didn’t.” “Gross?” she said. “Looks preƩy cushy to me.”

“Jesus, man. Who was she?” “But it’s fake, all of it, not an ounce of authen-
Ɵcity in it.” I rolled onto my side, pressed the
“Siobhan. We’d been daƟng for a few third extra down pillow over my head.
months.”
“AuthenƟcity? Like you’d know, liƩle prince.”
“Almost a year, you prick, we met on New She laughed.
Year’s Day,” Siobhan weighed in. I watched Brad
to see if he heard her. Nothing. He just stared at “You’re authenƟc.”
the fire.
“Is that what you think? Shit, I’m just poor. Or
“She was cool. Hot, crazy but sweet, too.” was.”

Brad nodded. “I’m sorry, Siobhan, I never meant….”

“You kiss-ass,” Siobhan said. “Only rich people think poverty is authenƟc.”

“Fucking mess, huh?” I said to Brad. In the morning I apologized more sincerely to
Cassie, wore Brad’s khakis to dinner and made
“Looks like it,” he said, swirling the amber liq- perfect small talk just like my mother had taught
uid in his glass. “But my buddy who got you out me.
tonight? He specializes in criminal. He’ll take
care of it.” “I had no idea Brad had a brother in the city,”
was a common refrain.
“Criminal?”
“Hides me away for special occasions,” I said
“She’s dead.” jovially.

“It was an accident.” “Wow, these are some fancy people,” Siobhan
whispered in my head. And they were. Dressed
“He’ll take care of it.”

47

Adelaide Magazine

in well-fit cashmere sweaters and tailored silk The frigid dregs sloshed. I pressed her lipsƟck
blouses, these were people raised in suburban mark to my mouth like a kiss.
splendor, a life of ease and comfort, possibility
and opportunity pre-ordained. The people I’d She laughed, gently this Ɵme. “It’s okay, ba-
grown up with. Sure, there were troubles in sub- by,” she said. “I was never gonna get old any-
urbia, but not the real kind. Nobody went hungry way.”
or didn’t have a bed to sleep in at night. I tried to
picture Siobhan holding her own among them. This made me cry which made her laugh again,
She’d be wearing a sleek black dress, leggy black harder, meaner. “Toughen up, you shit. Life is
Ɵghts and those silver boots. She’d be the one hard, then you die. Or don’t they send that
they’d all eye, curious and surprised, but would memo from the Hamptons?”
anyone of them dare to speak to her? Maybe
that guy, the balding short guy who looks like he’s “Intracranial hematoma” was the determinaƟon,
up for a challenge. He’d ask her what she did, bleeding inside the skull caused by blunt force
who she was and she’d offer some bullshit to put trauma. Both drug screens came back clean. The
him off. Before yesterday, I would have enjoyed cops weren’t inclined to let it go that easy, but it
the discomfort she’d cause, would have reveled in turns out she had been a foster child, ward of the
throwing the comfortable people off their game. state. Her mother murdered by a jealous boy-
But now, I could see Siobhan would be out of friend, her father a vicƟm of his own drunk driv-
place here, she’d be just as uncomfortable but ing.
trying ever so hard to be nice. I was using her to
distance myself from these people, my people, “I had a grandma,” she barked. And she wasn’t
just like she was using me to get further away Irish either, not really, descended from Irish like
from hers. Neither one of us would have suc- we are all descended from something we wish
ceeded but I came out on top. There was part of were beƩer than ourselves.
me who, though guilty and afraid, was glad it was
me who survived, because I could. I had this to With no aggrieved mother, no angry father,
fall back on. She had nothing, or very liƩle. the authoriƟes accepted the truth: rough sex and
those boots.
We sat politely for dinner in place-carded
seats. Of course, she couldn’t stay forever. Exactly
one month to the day aŌer she died, she was
“So much to be grateful for,” Brad declared. gone. I’d spent the night before drowning my
broken heart. There may or may not have been
“Here, here,” the guests agreed. We raised tears involved, but I do recall Siobhan next to me
our glasses to good fortune. The food, catered on the barstool just before they threw me out. In
and abundant, landed in my stomach like a dense the bed where she died, I passed out. At noon,
ball. I pushed the turkey and potatoes around my high noon, she called to me.
plate. Siobhan insisted I eat two pieces of pump-
kin pie. “Hey Danny, this is goodbye.”

“That always was my favorite part of Thanks- I opened my eyes. There she stood at the foot
giving, when I could get it,” she told me. of the bed wearing an old Army jacket and black
coƩon bikinis.
Brad drove me home Friday morning.
“Wait. Where are you going?”
“Want me to come up?” he asked.
“That’s for me to know and you to find out.”
“That’s cool. I think I’d rather go it alone.” He
drove quietly away and I let myself into the “I can’t do this without you.”
chilled apartment. A sƟllness hung in the air, an
empƟness with her gone. Her magenta-rimmed “You’re a rich kid, you’ll be fine.”
café au lait cup sat on the dresser. I picked it up.
“But you kept me real.”

“Nobody is that real.”

48


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Adelaide Literary Magazine No.12, April 2018