January '04

C.L. Bledsoe Luck
David Gianatasio The Movie I Remember
Gary Glauber Physics Lesson
Claudia Smith Liar
Francis Raven My Fifty Dollar Coffee Cup


            C.L. Bledsoe

Sand dunes stretch like frozen waves farther than Jimmy can see. It's day. It's too hot to walk anymore. He has learned to hide from the sun like ice; his only movement, the slow trickle of his thoughts. He's hiding like what was once known as a mouse, he thinks; in a small cave he's burrowed himself into. Mouse. They're the ones elephants were afraid of. He's never seen an elephant, knows only that they were beasts greater than mountains. All dead now. They wore bells and were eaten by kings. Their meat was called burgers. Burger kings ate them. No, that's not right. Cows. Cows wore bells. His grandfather had one; a cowbell. Tin, tall and tarnished. It was a dull color like sand with a metal ball on a string inside. It rang when he shook it. Grandfather passed the legends of the things-that-were-now-dead like gas, farting them out every day. But he lost the bell years ago, so long ago almost no one remembers it, except Jimmy. No one believes the old man anymore. Jimmy humors him, letting part of himself think; maybe.

Heat shoulders its way into the cave mouth. Jimmy slides out into the blaze and quickly turns, reenters the cave, and crawls further. It was like luck, another of grandfather's words; finding this cave. Luck, the old man had explained, was like finding food when you're hungry. Food you didn't make. Not stealing, this was the hard thing to understand; food no one claimed.

Deeper inside, the cave opens, allowing Jimmy to stand. It was stupid to stay out so late, hungry or not. Stupid is the same word for him as dead. He will have to wait out the sun. Patience is the same word as life. The larger part of the cave smells old and used. He roots around the floor, which is covered with dust, out of boredom; a word he doesn't know. On the other side of the room, he finds something. It is hard; metal. He thinks maybe he can trade it. Part of it is long and points one way, the other part sticks out like a thumb, short and squat. It is like a pointing finger and a thumb, with the rest of the hand gone. There is a hole in one end, and where the thumb would be, another little part, like a tiny finger, curves out, with another part curving around it. He looks in the hole, but it is too small to see into. While he looks, he plays with the little curving bit. It is loose and when he squeezes, it clicks. He points the hole at his eye again and squeezes the curvy finger part. It clicks. He shakes it. It is an old thing, can't trade it, he thinks; no one but Grandfather would want it. He drops it into the dust, lies down and waits for sleep to take him, and the sun to forget him.

C.L. Bledsoe lives in Fayetteville, with his fiance, poet Jillian Meyer. He has poems published or forthcoming in Shampoo Poetry, Story South, Nimrod, 2 River View, and The Arkansas Literary Forum, among other places. His story in last month's Hobart, Jane, was his first fiction publication.