Monday, January 25, 2016

New Short Story by Brooklyn Writer, B. E. Stock

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A January Treat!
It is my great pleasure to present a short story to you by my friend and creative colleague, B.E. Stock, who I have known for many years.  I first met B.E. Stock at the Old Stone House in Park Slope, Brooklyn, where we both read our works at a reading for Brooklyn poets. There, I purchased her book, Collected Poems, which I have enjoyed ever since. B.E. Stock studied poetry and fiction writing at Bread Loaf, Sarah Lawrence College, the Brooklyn Poetry Circle with Alfred Dorn, The West Chester Form and Narrative Conference, and Colrain. She is widely published in magazines and websites such as Blue Unicorn. Orbis, The Lyric, Poetry Porch, Lalitamba, Utmost Christian Writers, and Catholic World, and has curated and featured in poetry readings in Manhattan and Brooklyn, New York.  B. E. Stock has self-published at various times since 1976, and her book and chapbooks are available. Please e-mail for details.  B. E. Stock writes: "I am attaching a little tale which is based on something that allegedly made the newspapers, though I never saw the article." 


Peter had wanted to talk to Pop for years, but the phone would ring and ring. Letters were not answered by Pop or Mom, though they were not returned. It all seemed remote from here, the screaming arguments about his drinking, being kicked out and spending the night with Karl from the bar, who molested him, Tina’s abortion. Now he had lucked into sales management, though he had to go to Denver. He was happy with Louise, and the difficult pregnancy was over, and they had Peter Junior.

Finally he reached Mom. It took a few minutes before she realized who he was, then she cried. When he talked about coming up to visit, she said she was too tired to cook, and Pop wasn’t up to visitors. He assured her they would take her out and find a place to stay. Then she talked about when he was little, and when Katie died, and he realized she might be out of it. When she hung up without saying goodbye, Peter decided to just go there. Something was not right.

Louise went to stay with her old friends the Larsons, and Peter kept calling and listening to little Peter’s gurgling and peeping every few hours on the long train trip to Grand Central. By the time he got there, everyone in the car knew he was a first time Dad. He switched to the S and took the R train all the way out to Bay Ridge. It would be nice to see the old neighborhood, though he supposed it had changed a lot.
The lack of sky hit him when he got out of the subway at 77th. The church there had gone Korean, one of the funeral homes was gone, there were more clinics than he remembered. But the attached brick houses on the side street looked the same. He
went to the house, climbed the outside stairs, rang the bell. No answer. He took out the key, which he still had; the lock had been changed. His debit card forced the door open. No noise of a person inside, yet he was sure someone was there.

Foyer, living room, kitchen, everything the same but faded, stained, worn out. He used the bathroom, then lumbered past Katie’s room. There was the last picture of her as a teenager, before the accident. Because he knew she had been killed, her eyes hade a sad, warning expression. But he also smelled something. His room was unchanged, complete with athletic trophies and a corny confirmation picture. The smell had to come from the master bedroom in back. Cautiously, Peter opened the door – and caught his breath. The bed had not been made, but there was something under the quilt, on the side of the bed where Mom had not slept. He forced himself to move the quilt over. And there, on the other side, was a skeleton. Pop.

He sat on the rocking chair by the window, trembling. Then he realized he had little time before Mom would return, so he crept to the night table, picked up the phone, put it down, picked up again, dialed 911. “I just found my father’s bones in my parents’ bed. My mother is out.”

“Name? Address?”

He could not hear his own voice. He put the phone down and sat on the rocker again, staring at the landscape on the wall. A beach with shells on the sand, blue green water, a sail in the distance.

The wail of a shopping cart, the sound of it banging up the stairs, the gasp, the murmur, “O my God, what is this, there’s nothing here to be taken.”

He made himself get up and go to the door and open it.

“Peter! You came!”

“Mom. I found him.”

They heard the siren, and she said only, “I needed the Social Security,” and took her cart back down the stairs. She headed toward Fifth Avenue, but he pointed her out to the cops, and they gently escorted her back and placed her in a car. They let Peter put the food away before getting into another car. He explained that he needed to get back to his wife and new-born son in Denver. The non-driving cop advised him to call his wife from the precinct. He might be here for a while.

Poems by B. E. Stock on this blog: