Steve Gergley ~ Two Stories

The House Beneath the Highway

At 3:30 a.m., my wife and I wake up ful­ly clothed and clump into the walk-in show­er in the crawl­space. There we step over the bronze skele­ton on the floor and scarf our sog­gy break­fasts amid the hot dag­gers of crys­talline water. With a mouth­ful of ketchupy eggs, my wife asks me what I will depict in my next painting.

I stare into her milky eye­balls. I think for eleven min­utes. I nod in sat­is­fac­tion and say, the house beneath the high­way.

Which high­way, my wife says, swal­low­ing her eggs. Which house?

The one with the bal­cony and the tow­er and the pink mar­ble stat­ue of the east­ern blue­bird in flight, I say. The one where we lost—

Oh, I remem­ber now, she says, with a red-stained smile and a wist­ful glance at the bronze skele­ton gleam­ing in the steam at our feet. I know exact­ly what you’re talk­ing about. 

Yes, I say.

It sounds beau­ti­ful, she says.

We’ll see.

Beautiful and ter­ri­fy­ing and rav­ish­ing and wonderful.

We’ll see.

We stand in silence for forty minutes.

Do you want the rest of my eggs? My wife says.

I study her water-crin­kled hands and nod. I slip off my black leather oxfords and sit on the floor of the show­er. She hands me her drip­ping plate. She unbut­tons her cot­ton-blend blouse. She hides behind the canopy of her sat­u­rat­ed graphite hair.


A Wall of Glass Bricks

I built a wall of glass bricks in front of my house in the woods. I want­ed to build the wall so wide that I’d nev­er have to deal with anoth­er human being again, but some­how, ran­dom peo­ple kept walk­ing around the sides of the wall and com­ing up to me. Each time this hap­pened, I stacked a series of new bricks in a pan­ic to extend the wall as far as I could on the side where the last per­son had come from. But I was­n’t able to make much progress. Every few sec­onds a new per­son would appear out of nowhere, prod me on the shoul­der with great impa­tience, and ask a ran­dom / con­fus­ing / infu­ri­at­ing ques­tion, such as, do I need an umbrel­la for the walk home? or, where’s the ice cream machine? or, which aisle is the toma­to sauce in? or, how many tea­spoons are there in a gal­lon? or, what is the state bird of Minnesota? 

At first I point­ed in the direc­tion from which each per­son had come and said, over there, but that response didn’t apply to most of their ques­tions, so they quick­ly became enraged and bel­liger­ent and sur­round­ed me on all sides. Moments lat­er, the crowd began shout­ing aggres­sive insults. They jabbed me in the tor­so with sharp fin­gers like pool cues. They sprayed my puls­ing cheeks with a mist of warm sali­va. They crushed my frail body like an orange between two dumbbells.

Suffocated with fear and rage and frus­tra­tion and despair, I threw my head back­ward and roared like a trapped bear. I dropped to my knees in the mud and clutched a glass brick in each hand. I slopped to my feet in des­per­a­tion and thrashed my body in a wild frenzy.


Steve Gergley is the author of The Great Atlantic Highway & Other Stories (Malarkey Books ’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, Always Crashing, Rejection Letters, and oth­ers. In addi­tion to writ­ing fic­tion, he has com­posed and record­ed five albums of orig­i­nal music. He tweets @GergleySteve. His fic­tion can be found at: