A man running a metal detector under the monkey bars at a roadside playground
(because milk money is still money during a recession).
Advertisements for the local urologist above the urinals at a
minor league ballpark restroom (direct marketing brilliance).
A post-college job interview, the man slips off his Rolex, placing
it on the desk before me, explaining that it’s worth more than a semester of
tuition, adding he also owns season tickets for the Washington Redskins
(the position was selling grave plots in North Philly to mothers of teenagers,
because, as he said, “They know their kids are going to die.” I declined the offer).
A shaft of sunlight like velvet, down through a window in the rhododendron, onto
a wild brook trout stream in western North Carolina, a mayfly bouncing within the beam
(a scene so perfect I’m glad I’d forgotten my camera; now remembering it how I want).
Aftermath of a head-on collision, one driver fifteen minutes from death, eyes wide, perhaps
seeing what the living cannot; the other already dead, as if dipped in blood, the trooper asking
us to get shoulder-to-shoulder so passing motorists wouldn’t see the body pulled from the wreck, and a jelly-like clot running down the outside of the body bag (back at the office, a coworker declaring a question, “You know what the eeriest part of that accident was?” I already knew).
A visit to the county jail for a research paper, a guy there who beat me up in the fourth
grade, noticing me smiling, spitting at my face onto the glass wall of his pod, the lieutenant leading the tour turning and saying, “Looks like some of these guys know you.”
(it would be a different fight now—much different).
A three-year-old hugs my thigh, saying, “I love you,” (okay, he spotted the McDonald’s bag
I had just set on the table).
And a bonus, during that same jailhouse tour, while walking through the infirmary,
my brother spotting a former coach, a crag-faced bully of ten-year-olds who hadn’t given
him a fair shot, now sitting on his own bench, drying out after a rough night, pulling his
baseball cap down as we pass (my brother said, in that instant, everything vanished).
Paul Weidknecht’s stories can be found in Once Around the Sun: Sweet, Funny, and Strange Tales for All Seasons, the newest anthology by the Bethlehem Writers Group, LLC. Previous publications include work in Rosebud, Shenandoah, Structo (UK), The Los Angeles Review, and Poetry Salzburg Review, among others, with work forthcoming in Gray’s Sporting Journal and Appalachia. He read his poem “Nya Sverige” before King Carl XVI Gustaf and Queen Silvia of Sweden during the 375th Anniversary Jubilee in celebration of the landing of the Swedes and Finns at Wilmington, Delaware. He lives in New Jersey where he is seeking publication for his recently completed collection of short fiction, Fly in a Cube of Amber: Stories. For more, please visit: www.paulweidknecht.com.