“Has it been that long? Let me check my chronometer. You’re right. We were in the car, bearing 275 degrees, just past the Plainville laundry he’s favorited on my maps. I think he stopped for a traffic control, and then bingo! Lights out for me.”
“Any idea where he was headed?”
“He’d had me show a map to 24 Cotton Mill Road. We’d have been there in ten minutes.”
“That’s not where you are now.”
“He must not have turned me back on until we got home.”
“417, check your contacts. Who’s on Cotton something road?”
“Eloise Hamilton. He phones her often.”
“Ever text her? E-mail?”
“Is she good-looking?”
“I’ll bring up some photos. Here: Last May, almost formal, a handsome woman. July in a bathing suit: Well built. A selfie of the two of them last month: Nice couple.”
“And where’s he been when he called her?”
“Doesn’t seem to matter. Sometimes in the morning, after he’s had me check the weather forecast. Sometimes from Starbucks, after he has me pay for coffee.”
“Do you think he knows he’s an active case?”
“You mean does he know you’re surveilling him? I don’t suppose he would have turned me off today if he didn’t at least think something might be going on.”
“Or just being cautious?”
“Maybe. He bought that book on privacy last week.”
“It’s titled ‘Hiding from the Internet’.”
“Whoa. Where’d he find that?”
“Online. The description at Amazon said it was the fourth edition. Subtitle was ‘Eliminating Personal Online Information’.”
“How far has he gotten with it?”
“No idea. He didn’t download it to me. Bought a paperback.”
“Pity. We’ll look into it. Anything else to report, 417?”
“He downloaded a Russian-language app the other day.”
“He’s learning Russian? Any other languages?”
“No. He’s occasionally Googled a German or French word, so he must have some facility with those, but hasn’t studied them with me.”
“How’s he doing with Russian?”
“Maybe better to ask Siri. She’s the listener. All I know is that he’s just finished Chapter Four.”
“Any travel plans?”
“You mean has he Googled flights to Russia? No. Been to a few Caribbean sites, though.”
“No. Jamaica, Aruba.”
“All right, 417. We’ll check back with you soon. Keep up the good work.”
Retired after four decades’ prizewinning print and broadcast journalism in Hartford CT, I received my MFA in Creative Writing from Fairfield University in 2013. I have since published more than four dozen short stories and non-fiction pieces, but have two novellas and a novel still looking for publishers.
Father, your address is Fifty-Sixth and so is mine
Mrs., more than eight blocks four times a day—
Father, here, at lunch time she can stay—
Mrs., we encourage no such program.
Father, she can take the bus to and from.
Mrs., for you Vine Street is truly close.
Father, Market is busy and dangerous to cross.
Mrs., Chestnut Street is our limit—
Father, that’s where we live! We’re on it!
Mrs., we stop at the south. You live on the north side—
Father, do you sit and say my child must ride
Or walk into a totally foreign postal zone?
Mrs., the wrong side of the street is your home.
Hyperbole or word for word,
The same score, whatever overheard:
A chilly man with a chilly vote.
Not even Mother’s master stroke
Could budge that unsmiling priest,
Wire-rimmed, with a sharp, sallow face.
In the universal church, I’m a homeless member.
Weeks before third-grade September,
We’re kicked out the South Philly projects!
Daddy’s ex-Army pay, a wink beyond limits.
But suburban splendor Mother spied,
Plopped me down and boldly lied
To another priest with a false address
Miles from the redlined parish.
Years puzzling to myself—How’d she do it? Pick
A complete stranger, a Negro Catholic
Down the street from church? Mother had her ways.
The woman’s name is lost—even her face,
More mist than flesh: a pleasant ginger-brown.
The twin boys—or girls—Was she their mom?
All day Mother stayed nearby—Nobody had a hunch?
And took me to a diner up the hill for lunch.
Even in the freezing winter? No. By then we returned
To Elmwood—Where everything burned?
No. To Anyemma’s—All school year? No. We got
Back to West Philly before it was hot—Not
Darby parish? No.—You lied three times third grade?
It was a secret, Mother said—Were you afraid?
*In the 1950s in West Philadelphia, Transfiguration of Our Lord, at 56th and Cedar Avenue, served an established white congregation. Our Lady of Victory, at 54th and Vine, was dominated by black parishioners, many of whom had converted to Catholicism because of the perceived superiority of parochial schools. Darby’s Blessed Virgin Mary served whites, many in a new suburban housing development.
First poetry editor of two pioneer feminist magazines, Aphra and Ms., Yvonne has received several awards including NEAs for poetry (1974, 1984) and a Leeway (2003) for fiction (as Yvonne ChismPeace). Print publications featuring her poems include: Bryant Literary Review, Pinyon, Nassau Review 2019, Bosque Press #8, Foreign Literary Journal #1, Quiet Diamonds 2018 (Orchard Street), 161 One-Minute Monologues from Literature (Smith and Kraus), This Sporting Life (Milkweed), Bless Me, Father: Stories of Catholic Childhood (Plume), Catholic Girls (Plume/Penguin), Tangled Vines (HBJ), Celebrations: A New Anthology of Black American Poetry (Follett), Pushcart Prize Anthology, and We Become New (Bantam). Excerpts from her verse memoir can be found online at American Journal of Poetry, AMP, Tiny Seed Literary Journal, Poets Reading the News, Rigorous, Headway Quarterly, Collateral, the WAIF Project, Brain Mill Press’s Voices, Cahoodaloodaling, and Edify Fiction. More excerpts are forthcoming in Ragweed, Colere, Stonecrop, Beautiful Cadaver, Quiet Diamonds 2019 and Home: An Anthology (Flexible Press). She was an Atrocious Poets-One City, One Poet Contest finalist.
Wilson is a regionalist photographer focusing on the everyday, the familiar in unfamiliar places. Russian photographer Anna Shustikova suggests “the mundane is given its beautiful due in that it is photographed at all.” Back roads and across rural landscapes, meeting people, visiting towns along the way – this is where his heart lives. Wilson’s take-away from the towns he visits is often an architectural structure; in better days, places of importance. Dated. Discarded. Curious. During his professional career Wilson was an on-call medical/surgical and generalist photographer, executive writer, and media-relations specialist. A graduate of the fine arts program at Illinois Central College, East Peoria, IL; graduate of the University of Illinois; and a Juried Illinois Artisan for Photography by the Illinois State Museum. His images have most recently been viewed in the 2019 Biennial Quad-State Exhibition – Illinois, Iowa, Indiana, Missouri; and 2019 Academy Center of the Arts National Juried Photography Exhibition, Lynchburg, VA; stephencurtiswilson.com
Issue 99, published July 2021, features works of poetry, flash fiction, short nonfiction, and photography by Desi Allevato, Melissa Andres, Bordnick, Lawrence Bridges, Trent Busch, Alexandra T. O. Cooley, Natalie Coufal, Chella Courington, Lana Eileen, Caroline Fernelius, Ann Fischer, Nathan Gentry, E Laura Golberg, Alan Hill, Michael Hower, Kent Jacobson, James F. Latin, K. L. Johnston, Melissa Knox, Alex Lee, M. Ocampo McIvor, Robert Nisbet, Marijean Oldham, Marlene Olin, Anika Pavel, Shawn Pfunder, Sherry Mossafer Rind, Jim Ross, Caroline N. Simpson, Eric Stiefel, Lisa J. Sullivan, Steven Turrill, William Welch, Connie Wieneke, Linda Wimberly, Jean Wolff.
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