archives   print   (dis)likes   links   readings   submit  

December '04  

news: Hobart #4 available now; 2004 Pushcart nominations

Guest Edited by...
by Ryan Boudinot

Plane Crash Stories
by Stephen Elliott

by Stephany Aulenback

EP No. 5
by Calvin Liu

by Lee Klein

Evenfall and the Residents Return from the Casino
by Matthew Simmons

   Evenfall and the Residents

   Return from the Casino

         by Matthew Simmons
        (a story to compliment Hobart #4's "Three Short Stories")

Evenfall, and the Sparrow boy sits at his window and watches the vans bring the residents home. In the morning, the vans take the residents away and he watches that, too.

And he watches, also, when vans pull up to the back, and a gurney is wheeled out the service entrance. That can happen at any time: in the morning, at dusk, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the night. Merely nine years old, the Sparrow boy knows that anyone can go at any time.

The residents gamble away each day, eight at a time climbing into a van with the name of this or that casino painted on the side. Eight climb in, eight drive off, eight come back, eight more climb in. The Sparrow boy watches the residents cycle through the days, going out to gamble away their money, on their way back to enter the glass and stucco building they call home: The Norse Home for the Aged and Infirm.

Right now, there is an older boy sitting in his father’s van at the building’s service entrance. He is listening, once again, to a tape he made for a girl. She had given it back before she left for college. Last year. Next to him is another, with light brown skin and the goatee, a partner, making a face at the older boy, and his eyes say this again. The older boy’s face returns no apology. It returns nothing.

The Sparrow boy is slight and freckled and his father often calls him Tank in mocking contradiction to his frame. He had an infection in his legs, and had to remain at home in bed throughout the summer. That’s when he started watching the residents. His father carried him from room to room. His brother put him in a wagon and took him for walks, up and down the block. Sometimes, they would leave him under the monkey tail tree in the yard to read. He walks fine now, but is still spending the last days of summer in his room or in his yard.

The older boy and his partner enter the service entrance at the resident’s home, and follow one of the caretakers to a room on the third floor. The caretaker asks after the older boy’s father, and wonders when the older boy expects to leave for college. Will he be coming back to take over his father’s business? The answers are tersely given, but the caretaker takes no offense. He figures it is just the way of those in the boy’s profession.

The Sparrow boy sits under the monkey tail tree.

The residents cycle in and out.

With the caretaker watching at the door, the two of them count to three and lift the resident out of his bed and onto the gurney. They use his bed sheet. Once, they had to pick up a newborn. The case they used looked like a briefcase. It disturbed a nurse, until they opened it up and showed her that the inside was soft. The comfortable lining was only comforting to the nurse, not the newborn. The resident is wheeled out to the van. He will soon be in the basement of a funeral home, where he will be drained, and the older boy will slowly massage fluid into the body, one limb at a time.

The Sparrow boy is standing by the van when the older boy and his partner come out. The older boy looks at the Sparrow boy, but the Sparrow boy stares at the sheet on the gurney. And stares. The legs collapse as the gurney is shoved into the van. The partner steps away for a cigarette, and he calls someone on a cell phone. He speaks to the person on the other end, lovingly.

The older boy starts the van, and the tape begins to play. He opens the passenger door, and the Sparrow boy climbs in at the older boy’s prompting. The older boy pulls the sheet away, and allows the Sparrow boy a few minutes to ask his questions directly to the prone, silent resident. The Sparrow boy whispers.

The residents are gathering for dinner.

Matthew Simmons lives in Seattle with his cat, Emmett. He is the web editor for Monkeybicycle.