Blast From the Past

CLRI found out a few weeks ago that a story of mine that had been accepted for publication in 2012 was finally going to print. It is an odd feeling when a story you haven’t put much thought into for some time comes back to you. I feel like writers have an odd relationship with their stories. While they write them, they obsess over them. For me, writing a story is sort of like expecting a child–it is my focus, my life for however long it takes to write it. Once I’ve “given birth,” I tend to lose interest and move on to the next story, except for a few stories and characters that really stick with me. Basically, what I’m saying is that I would make a terrible parent.

Below is an excerpt from the short story “The Closing of Joe’s Bar,” which is featured in the Clackamas Literary Review. The story was inspired by my brother and John Updike’s Rabbit Run.

Excerpt from “The Closing of Joe’s Bar”:

“Hello, yes hi. I’d like to report a missing person.” It was funny how you had to call the non-emergency line for something like this, funny trying to tell the parents and wife of a missing person that this was a non-emergency.

“And now you say nobody has heard from your son in two days?” The policewoman’s voice over the phone was calm, soothing, like he imagined a phone sex operator’s voice would sound, not that Gary’d ever called a phone sex line before.

He nodded and then realized she couldn’t see his movement and said quickly, “Yes ma’am.”

“Has he ever or does your son now drink and/or use drugs? Excuse me for my forwardness, but I am required to ask.”

“That’s quite alright. Part of the job, I know. Yes, to both, alcohol mostly, but his past, well it hasn’t been perfect.”

“Does he have a history of this, these disappearing acts, let’s call them?”

“When he was younger, in college, he’d disappear on binges every now and again and it would be a little while until we heard from him.”

“Mmmhmm,” she said like she expected it. “It sounds to me like he might be on another binge. You’d be surprised how often that’s the case.” Now she sounded like one of those types who don’t trust men, one of those lesbian types. “You’d be surprised.” You’d be surprised that Gary had been faithful to his wife for over twenty-five years, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t true.

“With all due respect, officer, it’s different this time.” He liked calling her “officer”; it felt funny saying it to a lady.

“How so?”

“Well see, his wife, my daughter-in-law, she’s in the hospital right now. She’s about to deliver his baby. He left two nights ago to get a bite to eat, and he hasn’t come back since.”

“Now why would your son skip out on his wife when she’s in the hospital about to have his kid?”

“You got me, ma’am.”

You can order a copy of the journal here.

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