JR Walsh ~ Four Pieces

Kindness of strangers

I stag­gered into the show­er-tiled wall at Park Street Station. The Wronged Man made a bee­line for the stairs, dis­ap­pear­ing with all The Not Involved People. He was try­ing to out­run his fist, which prob­a­bly stung cour­tesy of my skull.

Hey! On the far plat­form, across the elec­tri­fied chasm, The Last Complete Stranger of the Morning Commute was grip­ping my olive green fedo­ra. He mouthed the words, You okay? while nod­ding at me, then he pump-faked the hat like a Frisbee.

I must’ve been wag­ging my tail like an aban­doned beach dog, since he launched my hat good. Across the void of out­bound and inbound Red Line tracks, the hat wob­bled like a drunk fly­ing saucer and skid­ded into my meat-col­ored shoes. The crown was crushed bad, but if and only if I wore it back­wards maybe I could hoof it to work on time.

Holding up any num­ber of fin­gers, I got the answer right. Tuesday. The train to Braintree squealed up. From out­side and inside, I screamed at the closed doors.

Empty truck at the nursery

You can crack any lock by walk­ing around it. Like but­ter we slice through chain-links by a Bic lighter’s light. Me and the moon have the night off. In neu­tral, we shoul­der the pick­up through our hand­craft­ed pas­sage­way. The doors splay like bro­ken wings creak­ing a thou­sand threats.

Hoisting a giant vat blind means dirt fills your shoes. Flowering crêpe myr­tles weigh 200 pounds easy. You need three guys. We’ve got two.

Halfway up the tail­gate, every­thing rolls. Both doors echo. Our toes are lucky, out­run­ning flood­lights, dis­pos­able skin, blood.

Could’ve snagged small ones.”

Father dis­agrees. “Mother deserves better.”

Steering wheels are removable

The twins are three and hit­ting the road. Their birth­day car is packed. A sticky back­yard stick, cov­ered in ants, is dragged to the dri­ve­way – mud torn through grass. Dad’s ham­mer, Mama’s clip­pers, vac­u­um hoses, no room to sit. Screaming trav­els to Great-Gramma’s. They’ll nev­er decide who drives.

Somethin some­thing new

Maxwell pumps on the stereo. His croon slides the mood toward love. It’s an anniver­sary with no tra­di­tion­al gift. Wikipedia says “Musical Instruments.” No one gets a gift, but fart jokes are abun­dant, as are accom­pa­ny­ing sounds, smells. This is noth­ing new.

Bass rum­bles in our throats. We try not to repeat dinner.

Sandpaper hands whis­per apolo­gies. A swan neck appears bed­side, plas­tic, to honk on demand. Hypoallergenic and slick, we are pre­pared for any­thing. The cold, mesh bra out-squeaks the mat­tress. This is noth­ing new, either.

Someone finds an idea. Radically, lights light up.

A new mole is discovered.


JR Walsh is the Online and Fiction Editor at The Citron Review. He has a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Boise State University, where he now teach­es English as a Second Language. His writ­ing may be found in fine pub­li­ca­tions such as Litro, Juked, NUNUM, Rougarou, Blink-Ink, Alba, Timber, The Sheepshead Review, Esquire, and B O D Y. For a more com­plete list of pub­li­ca­tions: itsjrwalsh.com.