The kind you’re born with, the kind you choose, the kind that teach Catholic school
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Pat LittleDog (a k a Pat Ellis Taylor) was first published in The Sun in August 1981. She lives in Dale, Texas.
This month marks The Sun’s twenty-fifth anniversary. As the deadline for the January issue approached — and passed — we were still debating how to commemorate the occasion in print. We didn’t want to waste space on self-congratulation, but we also didn’t think we should let the moment pass unnoticed. At the eleventh hour, we came up with an idea: we would invite longtime contributors and current and former staff members to send us their thoughts, recollections, and anecdotes about The Sun. Maybe we would get enough to fill a few pages.
What we got was enough to fill the entire magazine.
Though we haven’t devoted the whole issue to the anniversary, we have allowed the section to grow beyond our original plans. After seeing the pieces, we felt that our readers would enjoy them as much as we did — for the information about the magazine’s history, for the glimpses into the writers’ lives, and (not least) for the quality of the writing.
Understanding comes like a delayed explosion in her head. Lightning has hit the fireworks stand and here she is thinking about it! Instead of being dead! Instead of flying through the sky with a fountain of fireworks a mile high!
She begins to go through the store’s canceled checks, bank statements, and copies of federal employer’s quarterly tax returns, which I do not have enough of, according to the records in the file that Dolores has brought with her.
Austin is built on a series of criss-crossing fault lines, the intersections of which cause parts of the city to sag into what might be called “seeps” or “sucks” — places where the earth breathes in and out, sometimes seeping and sometimes sucking.
so i have been working these past two weeks, mulling and toiling and essaying and travailing, over what is now a large sheaf of rough draft garbage, complete and total crap. love’s labour lost.
i can see the worst all right — the earth exploding in some climactic chain reaction and all of us going off sparking out at the same time and i think i am going to like it if it happens that way after all we’ll be learning something together something massive that we’ve been trying to understand for a while and in that final sparking and arcing of the earth’s blow-up we’ll finally get it we’ll understand
well, rolling thunder wasn’t named that for nothing. he let me know for a good several minutes that he was displeased with my presence and my approach. he said i had no respect, and that was the trouble with white people.
Now I’ve visited okie in the brig before, I’ve visited okie in the psychiatric wards, and I’ve visited okie in the oklahoma jail, and I’ve talked to the lawyers and jail wardens and policemen and psychiatric boards and judges. So I’m only a little bit nervous about talking to this va psychiatrist about okie’s va check which hasn’t been coming for the right amount of disability since he got out of jail.
Now leo says that of course we will get together again. He calls me on the telephone from seven-eleven parking lots long-distance and says that he loves me and he sends me a hundred dollars a month to keep his name on the mailbox, he in fact spends great parts of his poet-in-the-schools money to drive from galveston to dallas for weekends of love-making and whispered reassurances and barbequed chicken crowded around the little kitchen table with me and the three kids like he is simply a commuting husband and this family is really his.
Do you have a dog? he asks me. I say no, and he says well that’s good because dogs shed so much. And do you have cats? I say no. And he says well, you might think about getting one, they’re always good to keep the mice down. I don’t think too much about that until I start cleaning out the kitchen cabinets and find a spring trap about a foot long, large enough to cripple a horse.
For the first time I wonder if I have gone too far, overlooking too many potential danger signs in this landlord/tenant relationship, and maybe I should ask for my money back, take the lease form from the wife’s hands where it is lying and tear it into pieces, but then I decide that I am as worthy of two walls of windows and a murphy bed on swiss avenue as anyone else.
Then leo is saying listen, why don’t you come home with us for a cup of coffee, so I say really, like I have heard wifey-hostesses say all my life, and there is a flash of some kind of remembering across judas’s face that when people are being social this is the kind of thing they say and do.