Monday, October 24, 2011

Centralia, Illinois. 1947

I realized just now that i never posted this. Its my (Pushcart nominated, hey hey) story from the Emerson Review.

And If anyone is reading this blog and noticing I never update, well, writing a novel is hard. I swear I'll start getting more stuff published soon.

Centralia, Illinois. 1947

The lightning rolling in has got electric lips and they’re sucking on the land. And its baseball season type of lightning, and its here for game day. Headed straight down main street, its got to be, and all the people come out to their porches for the view.

The smoke plumes rising from the mine. It burned for three days after it blew. The company lawyers have booked a suite down in the Madison. They’ve been in there for days. God only knows what they’re doing. Funeral arrangements are next week. The Spinelli family feels guilty about their newly booming mortuary service. Business is business.

All those men’s wives stand on their porches, all day long, like they‘re waiting for their Mr. Just staring at that ash plume rising from those mine bones way off on town’s edges. “Don’t cry, now Mama,” says Benny Edwards. Mrs. Edwards doesn’t. She decides that from on now, she’ll keep going to church, just to keep up appearances. But she’s not going to believe any of it. And when she prays, its going to be fake, and full of empty spaces, and teeth gritted against the devil, telling him, “Come and get me next then, come and get Benny, and see if I’m so nice.”

And down at the fields, all the mowers are going and the diamond shapes are forming. The Bulldogs are coming in from Ashley. There’s a score to settle.

That lightning keeps coming and settles in on the horizon, just above the bleachers. Ash rises over the trees. Inside that ash plume are knuckle bones and burned up men, and they’re watching their son’s play as they float up and away from home for good. And the lighting sits down and watches, cackling mad out there, punch drunk and maybe above Kentucky.

The bus comes in from Ashley and they’re expecting to hit grief somewhere. “Go easy on em,” coach says. “Beat em, but go easy on em..”

Those Ashley boys are expecting long faces and crying on their way off that bus. But what they get are all those miner’s children, lined up with bats over their shoulders like they were ankle breaking loan sharks. Their faces all bent up and ready to fight. And one of them catches Mrs. Edwards eye. And when he comes home that night, still reeling form the nine to nothing loss, he tells the pitcher that some lady put the evil eye on them and the devil must have done it, the devil must have done it all.