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you and me GUEST POSTCARD – #35 1/2 by Eric Westerlind

August 31, 2010 3 comments

I mentioned in my #35 postcard introduction that you might be seeing Eric Westerlind’s words sooner rather than later and I’m happy as hell to introduce some of them to you now. Eric made me grin my biggest grin when he asked for a postcard so he could return the favour and write a shorty for me. His address tucked under a little secret pocket on the card compartment made me explode.

So enough from me – meet Eric…

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Me. A Coloradan living in a three story bedroom, working in a treehouse.

Surprised I was, mainly at the thick stock of the postcard, then the trim handwriting of one

yt sumner of Australialand Ln. Mama, brother, peekin over my shoulders like ‘ooo what be

that, boy’ and i told em I’ve gotta write a story for this girl in another country since she’s doin

one for me and they understood that well enough.

Finding that life doesn’t so much change its manners as it does it’s mannerisms, this story.

That gumless shark idea I wanted to make into a movie ended up on the back of a crayon-eaten-

crayon-made postcard. Only wish I’d had the patience to snail mail it back.

Onward, forward, all that! Huzzah.

Thanks yt, for the project. The space, the creativity. You’re crushin and inspiring.

– fre(e) (w)illy

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hungry

“Take your sweet time, hon.” That soft paper voice, brittle like starched linens.
Did you iron that apron before work? is what I’d ask Ken, apparently (short for what? Kenelope?).
Her skin looks thick, a buffer against this small cafés darker side + guys like me.
Dear Ken, I’m thinking to her backside, I’d take you if I had teeth left. Then again, the coffee’s good enough, appetite suppressed — three sips. She walks to another table, two dark and hairy’s (though who can say if its dirt or grease or anything). They’re probably ordering eggs benedict like all the other drivers do.
A window shatters, one of the big plane ones, CAFÉ DE dot dot dot just dust and a perfect spray of glass shard shrapnel and Ken saw it coming but that just means she gets a bit further before the front of the semi coming through the window catches her and crushes her legs.
The other two are just near splatters, neither less ragged than the other.
Strange thing — a truck in a truck stop café. Seen stranger though.
It’s been six hundred years. Things happen. A Turkish mob pulled my incisors, just post second world war, in Turkey.
MARTIN, who’s opening the truck door now, hypothesized at the time, tied down as we were, that they might grow back. A year later, x number of livestock meals, then more years and mud and hunger, he gave up hope too.
It’s harder, pulling/peeling at the skin, than just puncture-withdraw, but we’ve found that the more exposed surface area
the less work on our part.
Martin starts on the trucker under the table and I stand up, one more sip of coffee, hobble over.
Ken, her uniform soiled with hurts, blood etc, — there’s her tongue, either fleeing down her throat to her heart or playing with her molar, and then I latch on to the second driver, apologizing the whole time in my head that it had to be this way, not prettier, more finesse, nostalgic for a way that undoubtedly, after all these years, I can’t even really remember quite right.

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you and me – POSTCARD #35

August 24, 2010 Leave a comment

Raymond Carver’s early tutor, John Gardner, famously advised Carver to use fifteen words instead of twenty-five.  I always loved that. But the first draft of this postcard piece for Eric Westerlind was 600 words, so I had to pull up my drafting socks and get rid of half.

It’s a liberating process to limit my stories to this 300-word count when sometimes they want to go on and on. Liberating in the sense of the discipline of making very single word count, but getting rid of the last ten words was almost physically painful.

The writer Eric Westerlind sent in this postcard. I love his story, Slice of Life in Jersey Devil PressIssue Nine. It’s seriously amazing. You should read it and keep your peepers peeled for more words of his.

(Teaser – you may be seeing them sooner than you think.)

left

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If her mother was one of those mothers she’d tell her wasn’t looking after herself. If she was one of those daughters she’d tell her why. But they weren’t, so she’s walking down an alleyway with tears in her eyes and an empty stomach. Rain falls and she offers up her face and it streaks mascara down her cheeks. She smears one stinging eye and looks wild, like she’s wearing war-paint. A suited man with a crisp umbrella looks startled. She ducks into a doorway and looks down at her wet sneakers and leopard-print tights.

Hello, Miss. You like some Tai Yaki?

She turns at the gentle voice and knows she will keep this image with her forever.

His golden bow tie and spotted braces. His gold watch and dad glasses.  His crisp chefs hat and carefully trimmed moustache. His warm, dark eyes.

He smiles at the tabby on the bench beside the hotcakes shaped as fish. He giggles as the cat licks its lips in a cartoonish way.

Be quick, Aiko might beat you.

Although her stomach growls and her lips twitch, she shakes her head.

He ignores this and pushes the wooden plate forwards.

You need to eat. They’re good.

She sits at and the cat rubs its cheek against her hand.

I’m sure they’re delicious, but-

No. Not just good.

His tone is serious.

This is Tai, the good luck fish. You eat him and he will bring you medetai.

She doesn’t understand Japanese but she takes a hotcake, her eyes filling with tears again.

You promise?

She eats and the delicious fish begins to fill the empty pit of her stomach she’d had since he’d left her.

The man nods and the cat purrs as she takes another bite of happiness and decides to believe them.