Coming in January 2023, my first collection of short stories and poetry, some previously published and some brand new, including the novella “Asunder, baby”. Details to come soon. But first, an excerpt from the title story. Thanks for reading!
Harry adjusts his blue cloth tie in the Seventh Street Episcopal Church restroom, untying, re-knotting until it’s perfect. The toilet is broken, the sink is ash sooted, the light just right for catching whisker misses from his morning shave (or any stray chestnut-highlighted hairs on the shirt collar). His suit is Midnight Blue, the tie is navy, the difference, negligible. Will Birdie notice? Not likely. Will his mother? From a hundred yards out, yes.
Exiting, Harry listens for the musical integrants that sift through the big box fans at the back of the church: a crescendo of clarinetists’ conversations, of oboe miscellanea — just the oscillation of Saturday mid-morning traffic.
Guests have started to pick through the most-favored pews, those closest to the pulpit. Tommy Crispen, at the door, smirks, money already having changed hands with Fred DeSilva, who bet against Harry showing up. Double or nothing, Tommy says, that Birdie is a runaway.
Don’t tell her. Harry’s worst thought is not that his armpits have already soured after his morning shower, after a night of tequila, amaretto, and an unassailable single malt with a Spanish label. Don’t tell her you were on the fence, in between compulsions. He will always wonder if their vows speak more as a surrender than a declaration of affection.
The crowd — the audience? horde? — has to noodle around the big fans, has to pay attention to each step. The women lift the hems of their dresses over the extension cords, the gents elongate their stride like horses. Harry’s mother is already seated, of course, arms folded, three rows back, a half-opened rose.
“I wanted it to mean more than this,” he says to no one, and somehow she hears him and shrugs. He suddenly wants the bloodiest mary he can find. Kenny keeps a big Thermos in the back of his Valiant, but he isn’t here yet, none of his friends are, not even the stray cousins. Maybe this is the wrong church, the wrong day. But no. Other than his mother, there is no one here he recognizes.