"The Long Arc of History," "Not As Easy As It Sounds," and "Round and Round We Go"

The Long Arc of History

is actually a hose—bent, kinked, spun up like a snake. All you want is to undo the mess enough to stretch the nozzle to your puny garden, where fruit drops dead on brittle earth. People shout from windows: A weapon! Call the cops! You plead for help. Pull, untwist, slip nozzle through endless coils. Leaks! From here and there, water strikes full in your face. Justice! roars the mob. You go under, world a sea-mean swirl. That night, the vigil over, someone sneaks out to wrench the spigot right. After-the-fact kindness, sure, but not an answer, nor even consolation.

 


 

Not As Easy As It Sounds

One night, I just slap my pants and say, “Shoot, I’ll just go over there and change that stupid bugger’s mind!” In the car, I refuse to kick myself for failing to think of it before. Because, you know, we all have blind spots. As I tell my swirling minions, “What’s life without the capacity for growth?”

He’s sleeping, which is always preferable, although access can as a result become a challenge. Nothing in this case that a simple shirt-wrapped brick through a back door window can’t resolve.

According to the literature, there’s often a catch behind the ear, but it’s nearly always vestigial. I check first but always come prepared to do some serious cutting. Precision is key. You’re not, after all, handling a cantaloupe, although there will be times during the process when the parallels could be uncanny.

Then there’s the internal debate about where to make the incision. And the size of it. I sift through my tool bag. Decisions, decisions. I’m loathe to recommend a specific saw—try a few and go with what feels natural.

Changing a mind is no walk in the park. Whatever you do, there will be blood. I’ve learned to bring enough towels to wipe and sop. Unfortunately, as is the case this evening, the brain is sometimes not where you’ll expect it. Another round of incisions is required. Lower down. Behind.

Ah, there it is: miniscule, misshapen, flabby from disuse. I grab forceps. Twist and strain. Lord, it’s really made itself at home in there!

Suddenly, a key at the door. Wife or child? Yes—Grandma too. I tie my tool bag, whirl it medievally over my head.

Some people say the effort’s just not worth it. Have I mentioned the importance of ample towelage?

This is Norm DeGuerre, reporting.

 


 

Round and Round We Go

On the courthouse stairs, colorful signs bounced like buoys in the arms of old and young.

A man stopped at the light: “Why do you hate them all?”

The organizer said, “Some are corrupt, some quietly complicit. Both are bad.”

Three minutes later: “Why don’t you care about law and order?”

“We do. It’s just we’re tired of the law being out of order.”

Again: “The men have been charged. Why you still here?”

Round and round they went with him. Some, overcome with vertigo, sought relief in the shade by the scales. Those remaining cried: “Wetoldyouwetoldyouwetoldyou!”

Nevertheless, he persisted.

 

 

Michael Cocchiarale

Michael Cocchiarale is the author of the novel None of the Above (Unsolicited, 2019) and two short story collections--Here Is Ware (Fomite, 2018) and Still Time (Fomite, 2012). Other creative work appears in journals such as Fictive Dream, Pithead Chapel, Atticus Review, and Main Street Rag. Michael recommends Philabundance.

 

Edited for Unlikely by Jonathan Penton, Editor-in-Chief
Last revised on Sunday, August 16, 2020 - 23:01