Two Stories by Mercedes Lawry

September 19, 2018
Art by Sultonah Scott
September 18, 2018
FIVE POEMS BY BRIAN ALAN ELLIS
September 20, 2018

 

Dodge

 

Gail was nothing but an ah-CHOO when her Aunt Billie married her Uncle Stan. By the time she was walking around, angling for another cookie, they’d been divorced and remarried – by the same minister who didn’t seem to mind though there was no reception the second time around. Gail thought Uncle Stan was just a bundle of fun and loved it when he called her his Little Tornado and chased her around the backyard. He made them both grass skirts from hay and they hula’d to a ukulele record he found in the attic. He taught her to play dominoes and showed her how to snake them around the room and then tip one for an impressive accordion effect. He whistled – something her father never did and though she aspired to, she never quite managed to get out anything but a weak squeak.

 

Gail was completely shocked the day her parents told her she wouldn’t see Uncle Stan again. He was going to jail. She knew jail was for bad people but she couldn’t imagine in what category of bad Uncle Stan fit. She’d never seen him do anything bad. Her parents wouldn’t reveal the nature of his crimes, saying they were too nasty for a little girl to hear about. This, of course, set her imagination wild. What about Aunt Billie? asked Gail. Billie was moving to another city on the other side of the country, they told her. She may or may not have known about her husband’s nefarious activities. In any case, she was getting out of Dodge while she could. What’s Dodge? asked Gail. It’s a town full of gunslingers, her father said, a dangerous town. Do we live in Dodge? she asked. No, no, her mother said, Dodge was an imaginary place that floated around and if you’re not careful, it might land right in your neighborhood. Gail pictured a flying saucer sliding to a halt on their street, emptying out the gunslingers who wore dusty boots and spit tobacco and were generally unattractive.  She was about to ask another question when her dad waved his hand and said, the subject is closed. Forget Stan and help your mother set the table.

 

Later that night, Gail put her blue tin of dominoes way under her bed. Could a man who taught a little girl to play dominoes also be a criminal? Maybe there was a good Uncle Stan and a bad Uncle Stan like those cartoons that showed a devil whispering into one ear and an angel whispering in the other. She would treasure her memory of the good Uncle Stan and when she got old enough, she’d find out just what the bad Uncle Stan had done. Maybe he had been a gunslinger, without the boots and tobacco.

 

 

 

 

Missing Limbs

 

 

The genius rolled up his sleeves and there was no accounting for taste. His own cousin passed a basket hoping for a small handout. But the crowd was rowdy and the scent of blood clouded any clear thinking that might have oozed out of a brain not yet pickled or washed. The dogs stayed in the kitchen, finally showing some wisdom. The runaway leaned in for a better look. It was the self styled hero who made the first move that set off a chain of tears in the young mothers and their babies. They had tender hearts and still held ideals which they knew did not serve them well, but still – the babies – it was too soon. They retreated to their front porches and sang lullabies in dulcet tones. Entertainment came cheap in this town and the end result was unfortunate, but folks put up with it for their own reasons and in some cases, for the greater good.

 

 


About the Author

Mercedes Lawry has previously published short fiction in several journals including: Gravel, Blotterature, Cleaver, Gambling the Aisle and Thrice Fiction. She was a semi-finalist in The Best Small Fictions 2016. For many years, she has been publishing poetry in journals such as Poetry, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner and others. Lawry a book forthcoming from Twelve Winters Press in 2018 and my chapbook “In the Early Garden With Reason” just won the WaterSedge Poetry Chapbook Contest, judged by Molly Peacock. Additionally, she has published stories and poems for children.