About Me

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Hello! I'm a writer from central New York who has bipolar disorder. Among other topics, I write about mental illness and writing. I have short stories published in Lynx Eye, Lost Coast Review, The Outrider Review, Sliver of Stone Magazine, The Mondegreen, The Linnet's Wings, Cobalt Review, Breath & Shadow, The Round Up, Postscripts to Darkness, Masque & Spectacle, and several other journals. I have essays about mental illness in The Ram Boutique and Amygdala Literary Magazine, and an essay in Parts Unbound: Narratives of Mental Illness & Health, a book that was published by Lime Hawk Literary Arts Collective. In December of 2016, The Mondegreen nominated my story "Santa Lucia" for a Pushcart Prize. I've written a novel entitled Purple Loosestrife and a novel entitled Hoping It Might Be So, both of which I am submitting to agents and publishers. I'm working on a novel called Dark and Bright as well as a book called Violets Are Blue: Essays About My Bipolar Life. I have a B.A. in English from SUNY Buffalo and an M.A. in English from SUNY College at Brockport. I hope you enjoy your visit to my blog!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"Lonesome Tonight"

My first published short story, "Lonesome Tonight", appeared in the fall of 2005 in Lynx Eye, Volume XII, Nos. 3 & 4.  Lynx Eye is now defunct, and the issue in which my story appeared is not available on Amazon or anywhere else on the Internet, as far as I've been able to tell.  Thus, I've decided to post my story here on my blog.  So here for your reading pleasure (I hope!) is "Lonesome Tonight":

              Mr. Presley enjoys bacon and eats it often.  He gets up in the night to eat bacon, fries it in a large cast iron frying pan that has cooked bacon so many times, the congealed fat has become part of its tough black surface, a semi-slick rink of fragrant grease that sizzles and bubbles to life on the gas range.
              Lopita wears pink and yellow.  Her long black braid is a rope that swings away from her slender back.  On Tuesdays and Fridays, it is Lopita's job to put away the groceries:  eggs and milk, great cottony loaves of bread, molasses, lard, thick yellow bricks of cheese.  Today she works alone.  Miss Nicholson has gone to the hardware store herself, though Lopita offered to go.
            "Señorita Lopita," Mr. Presley says when he comes into the kitchen.
            "Hello, sir," Lopita says.
            "Say, is Miss Nicholson around and about?"
            "No, sir.  She is gone to buy mousetraps--"  Lopita stands very still while Mr. Presley rummages through the refrigerator.
            "Lopita bonita, a pretty, pretty lady," he says.  He peeks around the refrigerator door and beams at Lopita.  "I've got a star with your name on it.  I've got a Buick built for two."
            Lopita doesn't want to be famous, doesn't sing or dance, has no American plan.  Every morning she wears a brown dress to Mass and dreams of home.  "It is time for you to go from San Felipe," her great-grandmother told her.  Abuela spoke low and gummed sprigs of cilantro.  She kept dozens of mice in baskets and ceramic bowls and read the piles of tiny shits as one reads tea leaves.  "But you must go," Abuela continued, her voice rising.  "One day it will rain unlike anything before, the rain of a broken heart, of a lonesome eye unable to see."
            Manoj spreads mulch in the yard over the waxy stems of transplanted bulbs bulging from the ground like something that is almost obscene.  He works shirtless, his brown back curving over the earth, determined.  For lunch, he will stop and rest in the shade and eat strands of chicken stained red by acrid spices, a dish his mother in Calcutta used to prepare for him that he has offered to share with Lopita twice before, a small taste, a stringy clump.  Lopita declined each of his offers, yet both times Manoj held the meat out to her a moment past thinking that perhaps she might have been inclined to change her mind.
            Manoj stands upright as Lopita approaches.  "I buried a dead mouse," he says, gesturing to an unremarkable place on the lawn.  "Miss Nicholson found it in the pantry.  She said, put it in the incinerator, but here in the ground it will feed the grasses."
            Lopita nods.  She has come to the garden with her clippers and small metal bucket to cut fresh blazing stars.  The smell of bacon wafts out to her from the house, and the hairs on the back of her neck stand up.  There's something wrong this August in Memphis, organic butting up against inorganic with a sweet floury fullness and a weight of ozone and airborne lead.
            Mr. Presley enjoys peanut butter and bacon sandwiches on bread spread thick with butter and thoroughly fried in a crackling brown soup of bacon fat.  In Miss Nicholson's absence, or at night, on so very many nights, he prepares his own sandwiches, the kitchen walls anointed with the pork sweat and peanut oils until they glow in the electric light.
            When Lopita returns to the kitchen, Mr. Presley salutes her with the sandwich he's holding in his bloated fingers.  "Kingdom come, chica," he says.  In one moment, his face shines like a boiled dumpling, but then it is more like a moon coming too close, the balance of days and tides, of push and pull, askew.
            "Kingdom come," Mr. Presley says to the sandwich, peering at it closely.  Lopita's face burns; she rushes out of the room.  It's the last time she will see Mr. Presley alive.
            The ground buckles under Manoj with the force of the explosion.  He drops his rake, staggers back, then lurches forward to the house.
            What he finds in the kitchen, what he sees and smells--he will see it, smell it, remember it for the rest of his days, but he will never be certain if he can believe it, or believe that Lopita is running towards him through what moments before was a corridor--Lopita nearly stumbling in a sudden rain and hale, greasy pellets clumping around them and on their hair and skin and eyes.
            "The mister!  The mister, he has exploded!"
            In the silence of the days that follow, they are made to leave.  A bus travels from Memphis to Des Moines, another to Louisville, another to Atlanta, and Cleveland, South Bend, Sarasota, Houston.  Lopita wears grey amidst the landscape, the cityscape, the buildings, cars, faces, clouds and blue, somewhere, anywhere.  A breeze blows a newspaper along the ground past Lopita, headlines blurred, but Lopita knows what the newspapers say.

2 comments:

  1. A wonderfully descriptive tale - it engages all the senses and entertains from start to finish!

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    1. Thank you so much, Derek! I appreciate you reading my story.

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