UNDERGROUND VOICES: FICTION
How Jane Fonda and Anthony Perkins Changed My Life
When I told my father that marriage and family merely legitimized property rights, Tom
He'd set me up with a job the summer before college. No Wanderjahr. Calvinism
The foreman would've fired me for coming to work drunk if not for my father. Instead he
"You fucking commie," Dad said, making it political, worse than being a plain fuckhead.
"You never swear back home," I said. We lived in an Illinois suburb.
"Things are different here," he said, sloshing another drink down.
"It's different when you're not around either," I said.
Away on business trips, mother and I watched sitcoms. We laughed loudly, something
We took our drinks to the screened porch. The sunset's glow danced above trees in the
"I keep it at the office." We stared at trees.
"Clear-cutting, isn't it, when you'll only see stumps." Clear-cutting made sense at our Illinois
"There's always more forest. Where do you think your tuition comes from?"
"Money grows on trees after all." I felt my sarcasm, spittle bursting out each syllable.
"Still the sense of humor." Maybe I should've spat harder, aiming it purposefully at his
"Do you know they hosed demonstrators against HUAC?" I enjoyed lingo, making me feel
"HUAC? Is that from your Latin class?" Hic, haec, hoc: I hated Latin. His brother teaching
"House Un-American Activities Committee. I've a record about it." I'd a few jazz records back
"Investigating Communists. A committee wouldn't exist if they weren't any around." A timber
"You can listen to it when I get back home." We listened to the same semi-classical record
"Where'd you get it, from the Russian Embassy?" No, the Reds gave me caviar.
"From Harper's Magazine. I saw a little ad in the back." We ate the tender filet mignon in
"It's never the foreground, but the background that matters most in these paintings," I said,
"They were't here on my last trip," Tom said. "Didn't notice them."
"Merging with nature, not subjugating it like timber companies do." I realized every country
"Mao would apprieciate them, I'm sure." I hadn't taken the bait. Mao would hate these
"I had my first poem published," I said. "I got a contributor's copy last week." It was one thing
"What's it called?" Tom asked. I hadn't anticipated that.
" 'Wrong Womb'," I said. His face reddened, partially rose, and seemed ready to attack me.
"OK. Never. You're right." I knew when to back off, at least. Fear informed me. But I blinked,
Instead, he stood up, placing his drink down on a wicker table.
"Let's leave for a while," he said. He drove the Chrysler confidently, as if going to the depot
We watched Tall Story, Anthony Perkins playing basketball hero, Jane Fonda adoring
That night I slept in the bedroom down the hall from his. The next day we shook hands and
* * *
I've a few novels published, none successful, but a curriculum vitae nevertheless. I now teach
But then I write, "Sam took his date to a drive-in." It finally clicks, the simple sentence opens
The novella got noticed this time, getting picked up by an indie producer.
To each, according to his need, revolutionary Marx wrote. Ridding myself of delusions is the
Lynx Eye, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Red Rock Review, Hunger, Paumanok Review, Word Riot, Rattle,
Pindeldyboz, nthposition, Snake Nation Review, Thieves Jargon, and Prose Toad. He has a short
story in the winter, 2004 issue of Slow Trains and one in the January, 2005 issue of Laura Hirdís
He has had many jobs including a welfare caseworker in East Harlem, a lumberyard laborer, a
placer gold miner in the northern wilderness of California, a bookstore clerk, a postal mail
carrier, a crab butcher on the early morning killing docks (those were the days of big hangovers),
and a salmon processor (I flung fish around all day ).
He has a degree in English from Iowa Wesleyan College, is now in early retirement and is writing
short stories as well as working on a memoir about his relationship to his father, focusing on
the years after leaving home. He tries through prose to give all dark things the light they require
to exist unconditionally.
© 2007 Underground Voices