Category: Short Story

James Mulhern – A Nun’s Arse

By James Mulhern

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“What a shame,” Nonna said when I arrived at her place after working at the family restaurant. “Mary Muldoon just called. Drunk as a skunk, asking if I knew where her husband Jim was and quite annoyed at the Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant. Said they were sending her pork fried rice and egg rolls at least three times a week. Claims she never ordered a thing.”

“Where’s her husband?”

“Molly, he’s dead. Has been for years. She found him in the living room around dinner time. Massive heart attack.”

“Oh, that’s terrible.”

“She must be having blackouts and forgetting things. Or she’s imagining that they are delivering the food. Mary has squash rot. Poor thing. Her mind’s all messed up.”

“What’s ‘squash rot’ ?”

“It means your brain is rotted from too much alcohol. When she drinks, Mary gets delusional and hallucinates.”

“She eats at our restaurant once a week and never says much unless it’s to complain. She’s nasty to me. She told my father that I’m a ‘clumsy oaf,” and said that I should be washing dishes instead of serving food.”

“You’ve got to have compassion, Molly. She’s been through a lot and can’t help herself. Addiction to alcohol is a terrible thing.”

“I don’t think it’s an excuse to be mean, Nonna.”

I excused myself, saying I had homework, and went to her bedroom where I would hang out until my parents closed the restaurant.

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Daniel Finkel – The Salesman

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The Salesman

A man comes to town.  He wears spit-shined shoes and a lime-green coat.  His hair is all slicked, and there’s a pack on his shoulders.  He looks bright and flashy, like a light bulb.  I see him walking down the road, the noon sun sizzling on his head, with his feet raising little clouds of dust.

It’s a midsummer inferno outside, and all the windows in our house are open.  I’m lying on the grass on our front lawn, Hector at my side, just lazing around.  It’s too hot to think, much less do anything.  Inside, somewhere in the dim swelter, mama’s cleaning pots and pans.  

The man stops at a bakery window and looks in at a loaf baking in the oven.  They have it on a rack in there, and it’s going around and around like a little white planet.  When he sees it he whips off his spectacles and cleans them on his shirt cuff, and a greedy look gets on his face.

After he’s stared for a while he moves on, and the first thing he does is come towards my house.  He walks down the front path, and I can tell he’s nervous because he’s fussing with his hair and sniffing his breath and rubbing the sweat off his forehead. 

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