I go long and Chet drops a dime and I make the one-handed grab. I’ve got a step on James, who’s the second fastest in 8th grade, because he went for the fake like he’ll always do, though that won’t be confirmed for another 40 years. We’re playing two-handed touch but James makes a shoe-string tackle from behind, and Gordy Dunn, younger brother of my ex, comes in to finish me off. He never liked me much, thought I was out of my league with his beautiful sister, Maryhill, a consensus shared by many—including Ricky Sullivan, who was in position when I broke it off with her, the two already sharing a Pepsi when I tried to make up that afternoon.
I never did have the closing speed, just the one good move that only worked the once. Day after Thanksgiving, gray and chilly afternoon, and we’re playing in Dead Man’s Park, a former cemetery converted. So after the catch, I’m going down, James on my ankles, Gordy spearing my ribs, ball tucked away. I put out my hand to break the fall—and land flat on a tombstone left in the lawn, Barnaby Porteous 1909–1963. Granite and marble have no give. But game on, I play until we quit, pinkie finger swollen and bent. Unable to hold the pigskin, I switch to defense and can Gordy Dunn on his prep-school ass when he hikes the ball to Chet, quarterback to all.
Later, my older sis sets the finger with a popsicle stick and tape (Mom’s at work), and we eat leftovers, me holding the drumstick left-handed, my little finger healing towards permanently bent status. Just a pinkie, a crooked little lifetime reminder of an afternoon long ago, playing ball six feet above the dead—some of us from that day, sweet sis included, having already called it a game—me now dropping dimes, raising both arms as I release another poem, hoping Sis reaches out for the one-handed grab as she goes long, from the other side.
teaches “low fat fiction” and is the author of four collections of short
Grace (KYSO Flash Press, 2019), Soundings and Fathoms: Stories (Finishing
Line Press, 2018), House Samurai (Iota Press, 2006), and Parts &
Labor (Thumbprint Press, 1992). His stories have appeared in dozens of venues
including Carve, daCunha, Flashback Fiction, KYSO Flash, Sea Letter, Third
Wednesday, and Exposition Review, where he was twice a Flash 405 winner.
In 2018, his flash was nominated for the Best of the Net anthology.
Born in the Chihuahua desert near the Mexican border, Guy grew up on a Sting-Ray in
Ventura, learned to write in the Peace Corps during a civil war in Guatemala, honed his
craft pulling weeds and planting flowers as a gardener in San Francisco, and later
received his M.A. from San Francisco State, where his teaching career began.
He’s been a creative-writing midwife since 1991.
Guy lives on a houseboat with his wife and a salty cat, and walks the planks daily.
It’s all true, especially the fiction.
Author’s website: https://www.guybiederman.com/
This Day Afloat: Reflections of Life on the Water,