It was hot, hazy, and humid, because that’s how August is in Pittsburgh. Swede stood by a few scraggly trees at the edge of the rail yard and lit a Camel. The smoke he exhaled blended into the oppressive smear of dust and heat. It would be another two hours before his shift was over. Two more hours before he could have a cold beer. Four more years before he could retire. He sighed and looked over the yard while he smoked. It was hard work, but he wouldn’t want to do anything else, even if he could. It was who he was.Read More
As I leave the house,
I turn to make sure
I’m not standing in the window,
That part of me steps back abruptly from the window
as crooked fingers release the gauze curtains.
The cat on the sill takes no notice
of the movement;
An old oak in the yard moves wildly, and
the shadows of leaves jetting past her,
make her retreat from her watching post,
like life retreating from the newly dead.Read More
The lamp wasn’t quite old enough to qualify as an antique or rare enough to be special to anyone but Jade O’Leary. It was from the late fifties or early sixties. The base was a wooden box with an oval glass panel on each side. The etching on the glass threw abstract designs when the two small bulbs on fake candlesticks inside were switched on, and above the base was one bulb and a very standard lampshade of no special distinction that was most certainly several hues dingier than it had started out. The wooden box had a line of gold paint that traced the edges. The paint was chipped in several places. The lamp had sat on the end table next to her grandfather’s chair and had been the only thing she had wanted when he died. Her heroin-addicted cousin had taken it and sold it.Read More
It’s a big deal when someone like this dies.
The black hearse had no trouble pulling alongside the curb near the back entrance of the church. After a few moments, its driver somberly stepped out onto the sidewalk. Since he’d performed these funeral services countless times over the years, he moved with an efficient grace. His body knew what to do and where to go. But this man was never just mechanical with the dead (or the living) at a service. This man was a professional. He never forgot what his father once told him: “Every funeral is hard for someone. Don’t make a hard day harder.”Read More
Suburban children have wonderful summers with their swim parties, mall visits, and theme birthdays, but they have no idea what our hot, crowded, sticky, glorious neighborhood city summers were like. We rode our bikes, had impromptu picnics, played our own version of baseball, and let our imaginations take us away like a leaf in a stream.Read More