Ann Bogle's short stories have appeared in more than forty journals, including Asymptote, New World Writing, and Wigleaf Top 50 2013. Her short collection, Country Without a Name, illustrated by Daniel Harris, is forthcoming from Veery Imprints.
Before Sandy, there was hype of Sandy. On the third day of hype, the broadcasters laughed. Then B-O-O-M, lights out, houses flooded, and Obama was re-elected.
The man got drunk before Sandy, before anyone knew Her name. He got drunk after Sandy, but he did not get drunk during Her. During Her, he sipped white sparkling wine. He conserved his honor. Hazard was his forté. He guided neighbors thrown from daily life. When the blackout ended, his visiting wife—not in fact his wife, but the one he told people was or would be his wife—flew to her home state to vote. He opened the emergency bottle of Smirnoff. He called people on Election Night, believing it was seven Wednesday morning and that the networks had not announced a winner and it would end up with the Court. His friends thought he was nuts not to know the side of day it was but loved him for it. In the past, they would have said he was bad, not good, not a man. They would have turned forthwith to flash words any non-native would understand: “good,” “bad,” “fucked up,” “lies.”
There was no hurricane in January 2007. The man said he did not sleep with the woman’s sister, but the sister had stood in the door of the guest room nude. He had flown New York to Minneapolis, a secret between them, future brother- and sister-in-law. The sister got him at the airport, and he took her out for Indian food. The next morning, the sister called to say surprise. The man had called already, and the woman had thought he was in New York as usual, but, as the sister told her, he was not in New York but in Minneapolis at the sister’s house. The woman’s shouting lasted an hour. Even the mother, who lived upstairs and couldn’t hear it as much as feel it, traded loyalty at that.
The woman warned the sister she’d get a restraining order. Later she told him, “Men from New Jersey go for sisters. Your dad was from New Jersey.”
Next Time, Academics
Culinary topics. My beautiful message got lost when the screen jumped. I’ll retype it from memory, but it will be a rewrite. Food 48 hours in jail in 2003 (barbed-wire medium security in Plymouth, Minnesota) for one beer over the legal limit (high beam out one-quarter mile), one topic, women in jail, other topic, why women are in jail, other topic, food in Illinois, where I stopped overnight, on the way back from Savannah by car, another topic, and beer, last topic. Here was the gist: I should have ordered the chicken at the truck stop diner, since I already knew going by the soup that the food at the truck stop was as bad as the food in jail, the worst food I’ve ever tasted despite the chicken and biscuits on that M.L.K., Jr. holiday, my check-in day. The spareribs of what mammal, first human? that I ordered in Illinois after a fifteen-hour drive were boiled and looked hoary. The diner did not sell beer, but there was a flesh shack down the road and the advertised largest cross in the world; in fact, there are flesh shacks, adult superstores, ADULT on a road sign, throughout Illinois and even in Wisconsin, where at least the citizenry (employees at the food-and-gas store) are politically well-versed and did not see their taxes go to highway religion. I suggested after we passed the flesh shack that we turn around and that I go in and say to the sex workers that the Russians are fetching $3.5 K per hour in Manhattan and it’s private, unlike there at that road-side shack. Plus, the clients, if they are inclined, and they like a gal, whatever her age, may pick up the $1.75 K-per-hour tax tab. How about that? I wouldn’t know what a corn-fed might fetch without a European accent or mob ties, but maybe it would be better than pole dancing by the Illinois freeway. My travel companion, though he smiled wryly at my speech, did not wish to co-liberate sex workers that late at night. Who delivers Peroni in Minneapolis on Sunday? Imagine WOMAN on a road sign.