Smoking in the girls’ room, sneaking a drink, napping
Subscribe and Save up to 55%
John Tait is an assistant professor of fiction writing at the University of North Texas and editor of American Literary Review. A Canadian transplant living in Denton, Texas, he has come to enjoy barbecue and Shiner Bock beer as much as he does back bacon and Molson.
I was a conscript, like Caroline before me, drafted shortly after her fourteenth birthday when Mom first came up with the idea for a family band. Caroline and I knew better than to reveal the true circumstances of our participation, though I suspected people sensed the truth. I’d seen a documentary about American POWs in Hanoi who’d blinked Morse-code distress signals to the camera, and I sometimes imagined the audience could read the same message of resistance in our faces.
I will soon be married, though it’s nothing I would have believed, nothing for which I’m prepared. The bride is asleep across town, and she and I have made no real plans. We’ve scarcely discussed it. Yet I feel a pang of anticipation each morning. I feel that same ache now while I sit with my guitar across my lap, drunk and trying to stay conscious at four in the morning.
I can see where my spit blood turned the ice pink. Finally, I catch him in our goal crease. We butt heads before I haul him down and fall on him with my stick over his throat. I lean on the stick and grind a little until I feel that collarbone give — ka-pop.