Tommy Dean ~ Here

            We all live poor­ly here. Use mail-in rebates at the hard­wood store, get drunk at Sammy’s on Friday nights, and let our chil­dren run around in their under­wear in our front yards. They wave flags, swords, and guns, prac­tic­ing for the com­ing days when sol­dier is the only job that comes with ben­e­fits. 

            We all live inse­cure­ly here. Guns unlocked and loaded, rest­ing oily beneath dusty bed-ruf­fles, front doors with dead­bolts and chains, evi­dence of forced entry too cracked to paint over, phar­ma­cy and liquor store heav­i­ly gat­ed and watched by paid-by-the-hour secu­ri­ty guards tur­tled with bul­let-proof vests. 

            We all live indig­nant­ly here. Dig up stop signs and ham­mer them into the walls above our beds, siphon cable from the trail­er court ter­mi­nal, dig up sur­vey­or stakes, forc­ing our pets to defe­cate on imag­i­nary prop­er­ty lines, hoist cars up on jacks in our front dri­ves, license plates con­spic­u­ous­ly miss­ing. 

            We all live rash­ly here. Spending the last of our pay­checks at VFW fish fry’s, McDonalds’ Happy Meals, and on the spir­its of amne­sia: vod­ka, mar­i­jua­na, and oxy. We roll through town tim­ing belts squeal­ing, hum­ming along to 107.3 Classic rock, look­ing any­where but the fuel gauge, hol­ler­ing through the stripped-soul ache of being unknown. We race trains and semis, dart through inter­sec­tions, col­lect­ing unac­knowl­edged badges of god­damn luck, leav­ing rash­es of side pan­el paint every­where we go.  

            We all live per­ma­nent­ly here. Football Friday nights, per­form­ing art cen­ter dance recitals, can­dle­light vig­ils for miss­ing tweens, bake sale Saturdays for mis­sion trips and recess equip­ment, peti­tions for cross­walks and longer traf­fic lights. Car crash­es, light­ning strikes, and messy affairs whis­per through the corn-arrowed fields. 

            We all live igno­rant­ly here. Making ref­er­ences to our ances­tors, those that scat­tered the ash­es of cul­tures they couldn’t bring to a caged har­mo­ny. Claiming a land that was nev­er promised, that con­tin­ues to seep with mias­mas of chem­i­cal cock­tails, evo­lu­tion feast­ing on its own tail. We stock­pile weapons, hell-bent on pro­tect­ing our ideals of lib­er­ty while rid­ing the twin thor­ough­breds of abhor­rence and dis­trust, pro­claim­ing an ero­sive hap­pi­ness. This, we say, is the only way to live. 

~

Tommy Dean lives in Indiana with his wife and two chil­dren. He is the author of a flash fic­tion chap­book enti­tled Special Like the People on TV from Redbird Chapbooks. He is the Flash Fiction Section Editor at Craft Literary. He has been pre­vi­ous­ly pub­lished in the BULL Magazine, The MacGuffin, The Lascaux Review, New World Writing, Pithead Chapel, and New Flash Fiction Review. Find him @TommyDeanWriter on Twitter.