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The Sun Magazine

Essays, Memoirs, and True Stories

Dignity And Other Staples

Eating In The Soup Kitchens Of Seattle

They begin with gospel piano from the evening opening at 6:30 until the service at 7, followed by a series of born-again “success stories” — of miraculously healed cancers, medically certified; of beatific recovery from addiction to pornography and licentiousness; of spiritual riches regained after a million dollars lost to cocaine. Next they run you through a gauntlet of the handshaking “saved.” Then finally they march you to the kitchen door where a brawny bouncer oversees your entry under a quote on the wall from Proverbs: “The eyes of the Lord are everywhere, beholding evil and good.”



Once the street was a street. Cars moved across it in both directions. It was something I could not play in. The curb was as high as the black spiked fence around the park. Cars were alive then. Ours was rust and beige, and when Daddy parked it right in front of the house I would always kiss the side of the right front headlight, as if it were the cheek beneath its eye. My sister Merry said that I was silly. But everything was alive then.


Fatima telephoned Matussem as she sat soaking in Oil of Paris Midnight Bath Balm. “Baby brother?” she said. “I’ve decided to put a curse on this boy that Kem wants to bring to the family picnic so that he will have a stroke tonight and maybe drop dead. Okay?”

Without Cost Or Obligation

“Are you going to write about me?” It isn’t a question he wants answered. It hangs there in the close, sterile air, while I look out the window and he changes channels, with a heavy mechanical clunking sound, on the color TV suspended at one end of the hospital room.

In The War-Torn Heart Of The House

Bucky, it’s Tuesday, May 9. I’m in the records vault using the old IBM to hammer this one out to you, my dictaphone account of how it went the last night at our house and about my return to Trent (still minimum security). Let me just say it wasn’t easy. I’ll tell you right up front some of it is going to upset you, because hearing it just now, some of it upsets me. Here’s the real shocker: the house is gone, Bucky. If you read the Parade section of the paper you could have seen a picture of it (copy enclosed). Our house in the paper, can you believe it? It’s been painted and is sitting on a hill near Kansas City! It has a different front door. It’s possible you wouldn’t even recognize it. The place is called “Great Plains Village.” The way I understand it, it’s planned to be a living historical museum along with other buildings and a steam train and all. Point is, somebody found out that the house had historical value as an early 1800-something hotel and stagecoach stop, which is what Gunny always said. It will be restored into a hotel or it already has been restored into a hotel and I think probably a snack bar or a gift shop. Anyway, we don’t own it anymore. The court approved the sale without my consent, so what else is new? Nothing we can do about it, even if you show up tomorrow. As I am writing this the house is gone and I have not received any additional time or anything for leaving Trent, due to my good record (I do all the records here, HA! HA!) and the mitigating circumstances — I left a note and told them how to find me — and because of my peaceful return and I think more or less because I’m well liked. Some privileges have been revoked (not the old IBM; I’m the only one who knows how to run it!), nothing I can’t live with. But it was the last night a Van Lonkhuyzen would sit in our old kitchen and I figured you’d want to know about it. So here it is:

*NOTE: Original copies of this issue are no longer available. Unbound, laser-printed copies will be provided for print orders.

Readers Write


When I was married, I had a little room of my own at the back of the house. It was just large enough to hold a single bed and a bedside table. A window opened onto the garden. I kept my journals there, a stack of books, and a clipboard, pen, and paper.

Personal Stories By Our Readers ▸


What is uttered from the heart alone will win the hearts of others to your own.

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

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