Manufactured Goods

It was a hot night in October, not Indian Summer because though there had been chilly days, no frost so far. Still, it was a night that belonged to summer, not autumn, and the inconsistent weather was to blame for the awful cold Theo had. Shocked out of a nightmare of choking, he had awakened in his small room in the lumberyard. He couldn’t breathe. Groggy with sleep and panic, he groped around in the bathroom for Miltown and Dristan. He stripped off sweat-soaked pajamas and dressed -- he had to get some air.

He walked two blocks to the nearest pier, shaking his head to clear it of the thick humid clouds that also blackened the sky. How could it be so hot in October? Had that Russian satellite affected the weather? He could feel the pill start to work. Pills? The Dristan made his heart race, but the Miltown dulled fear into placid observation that he might have taken too many of either – or both kinds. 

And then he fell, suddenly and wholly underwater into high tide. For a moment, the shock was joy, and he was a boy back in Mystic, leaping off the dock to cool off on summer nights. But the cold October current numbed him now. ‘Ee'en in the gasp of death/ …Love dwells not in our will. …’ It was so dark he didn’t know if his eyes were open or closed…he didn’t care. It didn’t matter. ‘O dear, what can the matter be, dear, dear, what can the matter be, O dear, what can the matter be, Theo’s so long at the fair.’ He was falling back to sleep, and in the distance he could see his sister’s lovely boy sailing on open seas…



L. Shapley Bassen

A native New Yorker now in Rhode Island, L. Shapley Bassen was the First Place winner in the 2015 Austin Chronicle Short Story Contest for "Portrait of a Giant Squid." She is s a poetry and fiction reviewer for The Rumpus, etc., as well as the Fiction Editor at She is a prizewinning, produced, published playwright, and a has published four novel/story collections, the latest being What Suits a Nudist (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, 2019). Her poetry and collected works are at L. Shapley recommends the Foundation for Prader-Willi Research.


Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, August 22, 2021 - 22:20