Steve Gergley ~ Three Stories

  1. Heavy Cream

I decide to mem­o­rize one new word from the dic­tio­nary each day, so I sit in the cen­ter of the liv­ing room and stare at the heavy book in my lap. Gunshots and train whis­tles burst from the tele­vi­sion behind me. Insectoid let­ters scut­tle across the brit­tle page crin­kling between my fin­gers. Eighty-nine per­cent of a decade pass­es in the man­ner of a drip­ping faucet. At some point I ask my wife to tell me about the first time she tast­ed heavy cream. Laying on her back beside me, she looks up at the ceil­ing and begins to talk. I rest my head on her bare stom­ach. Seventeen days pass, etc., etc. I love every sec­ond of it. I tell her to keep talk­ing. I tell her to tell me every­thing. I tell her to describe the sen­sa­tions in her tongue and her lips and her cheeks and her throat. She agrees. She tells me all the buzzing details. She talks until the morn­ing fades to black. She talks until the world chills to ice. She talks until my eyes hard­en to stones and the hair on the back of her head pil­lows about her ankles.

  1. The Local Place

My wife and I got din­ner at the Italian restau­rant where the local mob­sters sit in the back and do busi­ness. I ordered the chick­en parm. My wife got the penne alla vod­ka. The food took for­ev­er and the sauce was a bit oily for my taste, but it was a good meal. Just after 9:30, three guys bar­reled past our table in a hur­ry. My wife searched for tomorrow’s weath­er on her phone. I checked the score of the Jets game on ESPN. Gunshots explod­ed from the back of the restau­rant like fire­works. My phone flew out of my hand and danced in the air above my head. My wife and I scrab­bled to the floor in a pan­ic and hid behind the dessert cart. The shoot­ing seemed to last for­ev­er. A woman screeched some­thing unin­tel­li­gi­ble as the three guys jogged out the front door like spooked squir­rels. The smells of gun­pow­der and choco­late tiramisu float­ed in the air around us. When the police ques­tioned us about the shoot­ing an hour lat­er, I looked at my wife and said, the whole place just blew up like the Fourth of July.

  1. Senior Cut Day

During gym class, my wife and I pin­balled between the sun­baked side­lines of the far ten­nis court, slam­ming the ball across the net to each oth­er. Our bod­ies gleamed half-naked and sweat­pol­ished in mois­ture-wick­ing run­ning shorts and black and pur­ple Nike sin­glets. The thir­ty-foot rec­tan­gle of chain-link perime­ter fence rose up around us like a prison wall. The scrunch­ing scrab­ble of our scuffed-up sneak­ers sliced through the breath-drenched mur­murs of our class­mates’ con­ver­sa­tions. No one both­ered us. We would’ve ignored them either way. Senior cut day this year was June 8th, almost two weeks away. We didn’t care. After spend­ing the last twen­ty-nine of our thir­ty-five years liv­ing in this school, we decid­ed to do things dif­fer­ent­ly this spring. So I gripped the han­dle of my rack­et with both hands and sent our sun­bleached ten­nis ball sail­ing over the fence with an open-stance home­run swing. My wife flashed a balm-glazed grin and turned her head to watch. Our gym teacher, Coach Bennet, yelled at us to knock that crap off right quick. Then he ordered us to fetch our ball and to give him our rack­ets because we were done for the rest of the peri­od. We snick­ered to our­selves in secret. We sur­ren­dered our rack­ets with­out a word. We threw open the door of the perime­ter fence and jogged into the field sur­round­ing the ten­nis courts. Seconds lat­er we reached our ball, but we didn’t stop there. Instead, I snatched the hairy globe off the ground, winged it over the fence at Coach’s head, and made a mad dash for the riv­er behind the school.


Steve Gergley is the author of The Great Atlantic Highway & Other Stories (Malarkey Books ’24), There Are Some Floors Missing (Bullshit Lit ’24), Skyscraper (West Vine Press ’23), and A Quick Primer on Wallowing in Despair (Leftover Books ’22). His short fic­tion has appeared or is forth­com­ing in X‑R-A‑Y Literary Magazine, Pithead Chapel, Maudlin House, Passages North, Hobart, Always Crashing, and oth­ers. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fic­tion can be found at: In addi­tion to his own writ­ing, he is also the edi­tor of scaf­fold lit­er­ary mag­a­zine.